Upcoming new developments in aviation and overland transportation infrastructure will allow the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to better target its customer segments and allow the country to attract both quantity and quality visitor arrivals in the years to come.
Addressing a packed media briefing at the Thailand Travel Mart Plus 2015 (TTM+ 2015), Mrs. Juthaporn Rerngronasa, Acting Governor, TAT, said that while populous countries; such as, India, China and the ASEAN members in the immediate neighbourhood will generate an adequate “quantity” of visitor arrivals over the rest of 2015 and beyond, the TAT’s new marketing campaign “Discover Thainess” will allow it to focus on high-spending, long-staying niche-markets; such as, health and wellness, weddings and honeymoons, culinary tourism, marine tourism and more.
She also hailed the latest announcement that Bangkok has retained its position as the top city destination in the Asia-Pacific and the world’s second top city destination, according to the Master Card Global Destination Cities Index Ranking. This confirmed the popularity of the Thai capital and Thailand at large amongst global tourists.
Mrs Juthaporn also noted that to prepare for the anticipated growth, the Airports of Thailand PLC is expanding three of Thailand’s key aviation gateways. The expansion at Bangkok’s main gateway, Suvarnabhumi Airport will almost double its annual handling capacity to 80 million passengers per year by 2020 while the renovation at Don Mueang International Airport, which handles low-cost airlines, will bring its annual capacity to 30 million by this year. In addition, Phuket International Airport is being expanded to more than double its annual capacity to 12.5 million passengers by 2016, she said.
At the moment, four friendship bridges connect Thailand to Lao PDR. connecting Nong Khai to Vientiane, Mukdahan to Savannakhet, Nakhon Phanom to Tha Khaek, and Chiang Khong in Chiang Rai to Houay Xai.
Mrs Juthaporn said, “In addition, intra-ASEAN travel will be served by plenty of air services and sea ports. It will allow visitors to Thailand to extend their vacation to explore the charming culture and various world-renowned tourist attractions in our neighbouring countries, which are all within three to four hours flying time, similar to the European countries.
“To facilitate intra- and inter-regional travel, we are launching the ASEAN Connect Tourism campaign to entice visitors to experience new destinations in ASEAN to promote the connection routes of Thailand to Myanmar, Cambodia, Lao PDR., and Vietnam.”
All this infrastructure that will facilitate connectivity to, within and around Thailand and its neighbouring countries puts TAT in a strong position to put more emphasis on the following niche markets:
Wedding and Honeymoon: Thailand has been a popular honeymoon destination among newlyweds from Europe, South Korea, and Taiwan. In recent years, the country has also seen increasing numbers of weddings from India. This market is attracted to the many new boutique resorts designed for discerning guests seeking an exclusive ambience, individualised service and, extremely important, total privacy.
Health and Wellness Tourism: Thailand welcomes more than 2 million arrivals for medical treatment per year. Growing numbers of visitors come to practice meditation and holistic therapies.
Green Tourism: TAT is responding to the growing demand for a holiday experience that is environmental-friendly. This can be outdoor activities; such as, jungle trekking, zip lining, and rock climbing, and community-based tourism or a home-stay experience in the countryside. Also, there is a plenty of community based tourism; such as, Ban Bang Plup Community in Samut Songkhram, which is a model community of the sufficiency economy, and Ban Nam Chaeo Community in Trat where local people are proud to live their life in a traditional way.
Culinary Tourism: Thai cuisine is well-known and loved by people all over the world for its rich flavour combinations and unique cooking style, which offer nutrition from the use of exotic herbs and spices. In addition, thanks to the multi-cultural influx of visitors from all around the world, Bangkok now boasts an enormous range of restaurants serving world-class cuisine from Arabic and Argentinian to Italian and Indian.
Shopping: Thailand’s shopping malls, department stores and local markets offer the finest and most fun shopping experiences imaginable. The shopping hot spots of Chatuchak Weekend Market, Pratu Nam Market, Chinatown compliment very well with the modern comfort of mega-malls like Siam Paragon, CentralWorld, Mega Bangna and the recently opened Central Embassy and the EmQuartier of the M District.
Sports Tourism: Thailand is the country of origin of one of the world’s most popular martial arts, Muay Thai or kick-boxing, with many boxing schools around the country. Thailand is also home to some of the world’s best golf courses, offering more than 200 golf courses that attract millions of visitors from Japan, Korea and Europe each year. In addition, Thailand has played host to many major sport events like the Honda LPGA Thailand 2015, World Tennis Thailand Championship 2015, and Samui Regatta.
River Cruise Tourism: Very few places in Asia have river cruises similar to those in Bangkok. Day cruises take visitors to the ancient capital of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while night-time cruises feature the divine Temple of the Dawn, which is beautifully lit up at night.
Yachting Tourism: Thailand boasts two of Asia’s best marinas at Phuket and Pattaya. Also, the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, Asia’s biggest and most popular regatta, is held annually in the country. This allows all-season sailing that allows Thailand to promote yacht charter holidays and yacht ownership.
Cruise Tourism: Cruise liners are increasing their stops in Thailand. About 100,000 cruise visitors are recorded per year. The Royal Thai Government is planning to build two new cruise ports in Krabi and Surat Thani in the south of Thailand to facilitate more cruise-line visitors.