DestinationsThe Tourism Authority of Thailand unveils new goals and strategies to woo travellers in a changed world of tourism.

Thailand tourism on its way back, and 'Amazing New Chapters' await

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Taking place in Phuket this year, Thailand Tourism Mart Plus (TTM+) 2022 marked the first time TAT is organising the annual B2B travel industry show in person since the Covid-19 pandemic. Pictured: Travellers at Phang Nga bay view point near Phuket.
Taking place in Phuket this year, Thailand Tourism Mart Plus (TTM+) 2022 marked the first time TAT is organising the annual B2B travel industry show in person since the Covid-19 pandemic. Pictured: Travellers at Phang Nga bay view point near Phuket. Photo Credit: GettyImages/Panuwat Dangsungnoen

With doors to the country now flung open and international tourist arrivals showing a swift pickup, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is stepping up moves to attract more travellers to the destination. 

“It’s time for business to come back,” declared TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn at the Thailand Tourism Mart Plus (TTM+) 2022, which took place from 8-10 June at Angsana Laguna Phuket. It also marked the first time TAT is organising the annual B2B travel industry show in person, which was launched in 2001 in Bangkok, since the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Despite reopening the country to international tourists since July 2021 through the Phuket Sandbox, Thailand is seeing a much stronger comeback of arrivals in 2022, said Yuthasak. Thailand welcomed more than 1.3 million international arrivals in the first five months, surpassing the abysmal visitor arrival count of 427,869 recorded for the entire year of 2021.  

With the lifting of the Test & Go entry scheme from 1 May 2022, and a further easing of entry requirements into Thailand effective 1 June 2022, TAT is expecting 500,000 international arrivals to the country each month from June to September. That number is forecast to jump to one million international arrivals each month during the high season of October to December.

TAT has also drawn up a prosed budget of more than 100 million baht (US$2.9 million) as a "Tourism Booster Shot" to revive the battered travel sector. 

[From left] TAT's Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya and Yuthasak Supasorn; Thai Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn; TAT's Tanes Petsuwan; Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation's Anupap Wechvanichsanong; and TAT's Thapanee Kiatphaibool at TTM+ welcome reception at Blue Tree Phuket.
[From left] TAT's Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya and Yuthasak Supasorn; Thai Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn; TAT's Tanes Petsuwan; Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation's Anupap Wechvanichsanong; and TAT's Thapanee Kiatphaibool at TTM+ welcome reception at Blue Tree Phuket.

New rules of game, new markets

When China, Thailand’s biggest visitor source prior to the pandemic, will come back remains a major question mark. Meanwhile, arrivals from Russia ⁠— another major market for Thailand ⁠— have been significantly curtailed due to the ongoing Ukraine conflict. 

TAT is hence cultivating an interest in other up-and-coming markets like India, Middle East and Indonesia.

The Middle East market has recovered fast post pandemic. In particular, Saudi Arabia, which resumed diplomatic ties with Thailand earlier this year, is showing significant potential as a new market on the back of fast-growing flight connectivity between both countries. 

Nearer home, TAT has expressed interest to organise more roadshows in Indonesia to woo the country's travellers, who are attracted by Thailand's food, shopping and lifestyle offerings. 

Limited air capacity, however, is currently posing constraints on the rebound of the travel industry, said Yuthasak. The Indian market, for example, has risen to become the top visitor source market for Thailand in the absence of the Chinese market, but there are not enough airplane seats to meet the Indian travel demand, he added.

Getting air connectivity and capacity back to 2019 levels is thus high on the agenda for TAT, said Yuthasak, who added that co-marking with airlines will be a key tactical moving ahead. "We will develop tacticals to push airlines to resume flights," he added.

Incentive push for short haul market

Amid uncertainties and the great upheaval of visitor source markets due to the pandemic, identifying new markets and market segments was an oft-repeated line among TAT's top executives during the three-day TTM+.

For the short haul market especially, incentives is one segment that TAT will devote its attention to, revealed deputy governor for communications and marketing Tanes Petsuwan, particularly from Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and India. "We are seeing a lot of incentives as travel rebounds." 

Tanes admitted that incentives did not warrant top attention by TAT in the past, but TAT now sees growing opportunities in this segment and would pursue this segment in collaboration with Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB). 

"When it comes to incentives, TAT often gets feedback on the demand from our overseas offices faster than TCEB. Both organisations are now working together to woo incentives to Thailand," he told Travel Weekly Asia. 

Major events such as the APEC Tourism Minister Meeting in Bangkok in August, MotoGP motorcycle race in Buriram in September, and TBEX Asia in Phuket in November. 

As part of the 'Visit Thailand Year 2022-2023: Amazing New Chapters' campaign, TAT will focus on the use of "storytelling” marketing, including a new TVC that presents Thailand from a cinematic perspective, to attract global travellers to the country.

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