New directions for Thai tourism

The Thai tourism industry is to be
marketed under a
new tagline, “Unforgettable Thailand”, as part of the new strategies for
2006/07
finalised at the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s annual marketing
meeting.The new advertising and PR campaign will be launched soon and “focus on
delivering
an unforgettable experience to visitors,” said TAT Governor Mrs Juthamas
Siriwan.

“In a major departure from previous policy, targets will now be
revenue-based
designed to achieve a revenue target rather than an arrivals target,”
she said.

Marketing activities by head office and branch offices will be geared
towards
stimulating consumers to spend more money in Thailand, with each
overseas office and
domestic region having a certain revenue target to meet.

This may include more aggressive promotion of shopping, for example
through joint
promotions with major retail and shopping complexes, more emphasis on
Thailand being
a hub for wellness and spas and other revenue-generating activities.
These new initiatives were discussed at the TAT Marketing Action Plan
2007 held
between 15-19 August 2006. Mr. Pracha Maleenont, Caretaker Minister of
Tourism and
Sports presided over the opening day and the private sector and media
were given a
briefing on August 21.

A number of focus groups were organised prior to the main meeting to
generate
proposals and ideas for further in-depth discussion.
On the international marketing sector, the most important consideration
is the
creation of a clear, appropriate and potentially long-term brand image,
solving the
growing problem of zero-cost tours, boosting tourism during the low
season,
expanding land transportation, and stressing linkages with the Greater
Mekong
Subregion.

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The TAT executives also discussed ways to boost utilisation of the
Internet,
especially to raise Thailand’s brand image among tour operators,
organise more
special events, introduce new tourism destinations and encourage foreign
investment
in tourism, especially in new products.

In addition to the ongoing marketing plan, the meeting discussed ways to
adapt and
adjust the plans in accordance with changes in the underlying conditions
and the
occurrence of crises.

It was noted that in addition to the growth in numbers, Thailand is
becoming a
year-round destination with the low-season period now confined only to
April to
June. Although Bangkok and major tourism destinations remain popular
among
international visitors, tourism income is also growing in some of the
new
destinations.

Overall, the arrivals are doing well with strong growth in the first
half of 2006,
indicating strongly that the impact of the December 2004 tsunami is long
over.

Markets like China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong are all growing
again, mainly
due to good economic conditions and more public holidays, leading to
more travel to
short-haul destinations.

However, Thailand can expect to face high competition in these markets
as other
destinations like Vietnam and Philippines are also raising their
marketing profile.

Arrivals from ASEAN markets like Malaysia and Singapore did show some
signs of being
impacted by the Thai political situation.
India is becoming a very strong market, thanks to good economic
conditions, a huge
growth in outbound travel from India and more international flights
between the two
countries.

Arrivals from Russia, Italy and Eastern Europe reported high growth in
the first
quarter of 2006 but were affected in June-July 2006 due to the soccer
World Cup
competition and the increase in fuel prices.

Middle East visitors are growing steadily.

Asia continues to command the biggest market share with 58.11% of total
arrivals in
the first quarter of 2006, followed by Europe (23.33%). The top ten
generators of
arrivals are Malaysia, Japan, Korean, Singapore, China, UK, America,
Hong Kong,
Germany and Australia.

Domestic tourism market has slowed down significantly due to the high
oil prices and
domestic political situation. The World Cup competition also had an
impact. Average
daily expenditure has been affected.

To promote the domestic market, the TAT is to feature new tourism
products and
facilities such as tourist attractions in military camps, the many new
products in
Bangkok, new tourism clusters designed to decongest the popular areas
and quality
tours.
Said Mrs Juthamas, “Overall, the tourism industry is in good shape. With
the opening
of the new Suvarnabhumi airport and the ongoing celebrations of His
Majesty the
King’s 60th anniversary of accession to the throne, we expect this year
to be a
positive one, barring any global crisis.”
——-