Phuket to tap niche markets

Posted on September 19, 2012

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Phuket should tap niche markets as the destination has matured and reached the saturation point as far as mainstream tourism goes.

That is the view of  Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Phuket office director, Chanchai Duangjit,  who said mainstream tourism on the island was at the saturation point. The way forward is to concentrate on niche markets and high spend visitors.

“Phuket must move on from mass tourism to become a destination that relies on various up-market niches such as sports tourism, but it is also important to promote the island as a gateway to other Andaman Sea coast destinations,” said Mr Chanchai.

Niche markets are TAT’s priority for 2013 with a specific focus on weddings and honeymoons, golf and volunteer tourism.

However, Mr Chanchai said there were other niche markets that have been ignored. He identified the so-called LGBT market (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) that is now a strong component in European tourism markets.

An entire hall at ITB Berlin is dedicated to the market and proves to be one of the most visited halls at the annual show.

“Actually we have been trying to tap this market for two to three years already as it is big and also has very high earning potential because LGBT travellers are usually quite wealthy,” he said. “What we do now is to contact specialised agents and try to match them with hotels in Phuket that are prepared to work with this market,” he explained.

The main LBGT markets are  major cities in United States namely Los Angeles and San Francisco, followed by South Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Mexico City, Mexico.

There are also efforts to build tourism routes that use Phuket as the gateway, while pushing holidays in other provinces in the South such as Satun, Trang, Krabi and Phang Nga.

Phuket Tourist Association vice president, Bhuritt Maswongsa, said the association proposed a campaign to the government last March during a mobile cabinet meeting in Phuket.

“Our route would touch more on Andaman provinces, which we called the Romantic Road of the Andaman,” said Mr Bhuritt.

“The idea was to present Phuket as the start and end point of a journey around southern provinces, but it could also have commercial significance after the opening of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015,” he explained.

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Posted in: Phuket