Thailand named best country brand

Thailand has been named “The Best Country Brand” in terms of value for money in a global study by FutureBrand, a leading global brand consultancy.

The study involved a survey of more than 1,500 international travellers, travel industry experts, and hospitality professionals as part of a broader Country Brand Index.

Tourism Authority of Thailand Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications, Mr.Suraphon Svetasreni said, “It is heartening to see that Thailand has such a high level of recognition in one of the most important decision-making criteria for global travellers.

“In an era of volatile currency fluctuations and high oil prices, travellers are constantly seeking ways to stretch their hard-earned income on leisure travel, Suraphon said. “One of the key elements of our marketing strategy has always been to position our excellent products and services as being value for money, and we are happy to see that the message is having an impact.”

Visitor arrivals to Thailandtotalled 11.5 million in 2005, generating a total of US$ 9.13 billion, or an average of US$ 96.72 per person per day. This ranged from US$ 120 daily expenditure by visitors from Kuwaitto US$ 79 spent by visitors from Lao PDR.

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Developed by FutureBrand in conjunction with public relations firm Weber Shandwick’s Global Travel Practice, the global study examined how countries can be branded and ranked according to key criteria.

This criteria included both practical needs (safety, value for the money, ability to easily communicate, proximity and weather) and experiential wants (natural beauty, authenticity, art/culture, lodging and resort options, and outdoor activities) in a country-brand ranking.

It shows that the fine chemistry of practical needs and experiential wants helps define the brand and overall destination experience, and influences how and why leisure travellers select a country to visit.

This year’s CBI includes customizable country data, as well as rankings, emerging trends, travel motivations, challenges and opportunities within the world of travel, tourism and country branding.

The CBI identifies countries as brands and emerging global travel trends in the world’s fastest-growing economic sector 1 - travel and tourism. This sector accounts for more than one in every 11 jobs worldwide.

The CBI also identified China, Croatiaand the United Arab Emiratesas the top three “rising star” countries - those likely to be major tourism destinations in the next five years.

“Countries can no longer continue to see themselves as commodities. A country brand is more than tourism. It is exports, investments, trade and industry,” said Rina Plapler, Executive Director, FutureBrand.

“We continue to believe that branding is a tremendous opportunity for both developed and developing countries to build preference, consideration, loyalty and advocacy.”

“If travel and tourism is the world’s second largest industry - often driving entire national economies - governments should be focusing more attention on how their destinations not only market themselves, but also influence and improve the experience for every visitor,” said RenĂ© A. Mack, President of Weber Shandwick’s Global Travel Practice.

FutureBrand has developed a three-tiered evaluation system for ranking country brands. This study incorporates traditional quantitative market research from a globally diverse sample. It also includes expert opinions, and references relevant statistics that link brand equity to assets, growth and expansion.

The result is an evaluation system that provides the basis of the rankings. More than 1,500 respondents participated in a travel survey. Respondents were recruited from a globally diverse sample including the Americas, Europe, Asia, South America, and the Middle East.
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