Tourism Authority of Thailand: dawn of new niche market travel era

Tourism Authority of Thailand: dawn of new niche market travel era

Thailand opened a new chapter in the history of its travel & tourism industry by holding its first trade show that focused heavily on four key niche-market segments that are set to be major growth areas in future. Held between 6-8 June 2012, the Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM+) 2012, the Kingdom’s largest business-to-business travel fair, featured a large turnout of both buyers and sellers specialising in honeymoons & weddings, ecotourism, golf and health & wellness. All four niche markets are those in which Thailand has both extensive capacity and can offer world-class products and services at value for money prices.

Said TAT Governor Suraphon Svetasreni, “With 20 million arrivals projected for this year, and plenty of growth still to come from populous nearby countries such as India, China and Indonesia, it was high time for us to move into niche-market segments as part of our quality-over-quantity marketing strategy.

“Judging from the response, the strategy paid off. The evaluation forms show that considerable business was done between buyers and sellers in these four niche-market segments, and we can look forward to considerable growth in future.”

The theme of TTM+ this year, “Customise Your Experience in Thailand,” reflected the fact that Thailand offers a variety of products and services that can cater to all categories of target markets, from age to income levels. Thailand has also amassed extensive experience in creatively packaging these products and services and pitching them to the right target market at the right time at the right price.

Golf: Thailand boasts over 200 world-class golf courses, many of them of championship standards. In recent years, Thailand has hosted many major golf events such as the Thailand Golf Championship 2011 and the Asia-Pacific Golf Summit 2011.

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Health & Wellness: Thailand’s health and wellness advantage lies in both prevention and cure. Thai spas excel in quality and diversity, with variety and value that blends Western leisure concepts with traditional Asian therapies. Thailand is also an excellent place for people seeking to learn how to meditate, based on the country’s long-standing Buddhist traditions, as well as learning the healing art of massage.

Ecotourism: With the Thai tourism sector becoming increasingly conscious of environmental responsibility, the TAT will highlight its efforts to promote the eco-friendly management of tourist destinations. At present, there are more than 180 hotels recognized by the Green Leaf Certification Program, and a large variety of eco-friendly tourism products located throughout the Kingdom.

Weddings & Honeymoons: Thailand is becoming an increasingly popular location for wedding couples and honeymooners. European markets are showing a marked interest in the romantic attractions in northern Thailand. Other strong performing markets are India, Korea, Japan, France and USA.

In addition, the TAT continued its support for intra-regional travel at TTM+ 2012 with the participation of several NTOs from the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) including Bhutan, China’s Yunnan and Guangxi provinces, Cambodia, Laos PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam. Thailand is ideally located to serve as the travel hub for the GMS.

Highlights of TTM+ 2012:
Buyers: A total of 409 buyers attended, including 232 Hosted buyers (56.72%), 79 domestic buyers (19.32%) and 98 international buyers (23.96%). The mix is a good sign because of the large component of buyers who were willing to pay their own way. Of the total buyers, 192 were first-time delegates, including buyers from new markets such as Bahrain, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Ukraine and Uruguay.

Sellers: A total of 380 sellers attended, compared to 368 sellers in 2011. This year, 75 were first-time sellers (19.74%). A total of 42 sellers were specifically categorised in the four major niche markets of health and wellness, followed by wedding and honeymoon, golf and ecotourism. In 2011, there were only 17 sellers in these niche-market segments.

Success of Business Transactions: The total value of business done during the TTM+ is estimated at 2,123 million Baht, including 1,216.68 million Baht in firm contract signings, and 907.29 million Baht in tentative bookings.

Satisfaction levels with TTM+ 2012:
Buyers:
- 80.6% were satisfied with the event, including registration, venue and overall organisation of the event.
- 92% agreed that TTM+ 2012 matched or exceeded their expectations.
- 79.8% were satisfied with “the business discussion” component.
- 81.6% of niche market buyers were satisfied while 79.4% of leisure market buyers were satisfied.

Sellers:
- 71% expressed satisfaction with TTM+ 2012
- 66% said TTM+ 2012 met or exceeded their expectations.
- 77.4% were satisfied with the theme of Gateway to GMS countries.
- 71% of niche market sellers said they were satisfied, the same as leisure market sellers.