On the back of a banner year in Thai tourism, Tourism Authority of Thailand’s governor Yuthasak Supasorn called for “market balance” during a dinner speech attended by the media earlier this week.
Thailand closed 2015 with a record 29.6 million visits and the TAT governor noted revenue reached THB1.4 trillion, but he cautiously talked of creating a balance between major markets and also using the domestic market to support secondary destinations.
“One of my priorities this year will be to promote domestic tourism to balance international markets,” he told the media attending the event at Bangkok’s Shangri La Hotel, Tuesday.
inside no 8Thailand attracted more than 8 million Chinese visitors in 2015 and based on that performance the market could easily exceed 10 million this year.
But Yuthasak who has been in the top tourism job just four months, said there were concerns.
“What if the Chinese market drops? We need to be strong in other markets and promoting domestic travel on a much larger scale will achieve that.”
Unveiling a new Amazing Thailand logo that emphasises the Thai Smile, the governor noted “Thainess” would continue to be the core element in all the country’s promotions this year focusing on introducing lesser known destinations.
Campaigns in the domestic market will focus on encouraging retirees, students and families to explore their own country.
But he admitted the travel industry would need to come to the table with incentives and competitive offers to encourage mid-week travel. Airlines would need to offer direct flights between provinces and tourist destinations to take off pressure at Bangkok’s two airports.
Tourist arrivals should increase by 4% this year, while revenue could rise 8%, but the emphasis should be on promoting quality tourism, measuring length of stay and earnings rather than just counting arrivals.
“Our marketing goal is to ensure Thailand is always one of the top three destinations in Asia,” he told the audience.
2016 will be a challenging year for Thailand’s tourism industry. There are signs that the Russian market will continue to implode and that the Chinese market will decline due to competition from other destinations particularly Japan.
Low fuel prices will continue to keep air fare lows at least during the first half of the year and there is considerable confidence that this will boost in travel from Europe.
The European market represents around 6 million visitors well below the performance of the Chinese market.
Overall, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports believes tourism could grow to 32 million visits in 2016 up from 29.6 million visits in 2015.
However, the TAT governor set a more cautious tone during his briefing, concentrating more on the need to create balance and employing the domestic market to balance the impact of the Chinese market on local culture.