Mr. Tanes Petsuwan, TAT Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications, delivered the following speech at the Thailand Media Briefing, held on 24 January, 2018, as part of the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2018, at Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre (CMECC)
Sawasdee khrap and good afternoon distinguished guests, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen.
On behalf of Thai tourism industry, I would like to welcome you all here at the thirty-seventh ASEAN Tourism Forum, the sixth time it will be held in Thailand but the first time in Chiang Mai as part of the policy to promote secondary destinations, create more jobs in the rural areas, ensure a better distribution of tourism earnings and highlight Thailand’s linkages with the Greater Mekong Sub-region countries.
With the theme “ASEAN-Sustainable Connectivity, Boundless Prosperity”, the event is designed to promote tourism to and within the ASEAN region.
This year, we are proud to mark the first ATF after commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of ASEAN in 2017. We are delighted to have participated strongly in the “Visit ASEAN@50” campaign with a series of carefully selected Thai products, tour packages and offers to bring memorable travel experiences.
The ATF is the only annual opportunity for both the public and private sectors of the ASEAN travel and tourism industry to get together and discuss issues and trends facing the region’s tourism.
The event includes meetings of the ASEAN Tourism Ministers alongside with the travel trade show, known as Travex. A total of 275 organisations have registered at Travex.Thailand will also have the largest representation at Travex with 117 registered exhibitors. This is followed by Indonesia (50), the Philippines (30), Malaysia (24), Singapore (20), Vietnam (15), Cambodia (13), Lao PDR. (4), Brunei Darussalam (3) and Myanmar (3) with the buyers contingent totalling a record 240. Most of the hosted buyers are from Europe (113), ASEAN (62), the Americas (40), Asia (25).
The ASEAN countries are collectively Thailand’s largest visitor source market in Asia. Thailand welcomed more than 9 million ASEAN visitors in 2017, with Malaysia being the largest market with total arrivals of 3.35 million arrivals (-4.01%), followed by Lao PDR. with 1.61 million (+16.18 %) and Singapore with 1.02 million (+6.26%).
Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second largest city and the economic engine of the Northern region of the country. It is also one of the Kingdom’s must-visit destinations, and over the years has received various awards and accolades, including the third best city in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Top 15 Cities for 2017, and ranked twelfth in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards’ Top 25 Destinations in Asia.
Blessed with a wonderful climate, rich local cultural and natural heritage, and numerous Royal Projects, Chiang Mai is a testament to TAT’s latest marketing concept of ‘Open to the New Shades’ where first-time and repeat visitors can discover new perspectives in existing Thai attractions.
Chiang Mai continues to benefit from convenient air access. In 2017, a total of 18,101 international flights utilised Chiang Mai International Airport.
Furthermore, in December 2017, Qatar Airways’ launched a direct non-stop service from Doha to Chiang Mai, bringing significant new sources of traffic by allowing visitors from Europe, the Middle East and Africa to connect to the Northern Thai city via the airline’s hub in Qatar.
Chiang Mai also has approximately 38,000 (37,785) hotel rooms in 843 accommodation premises, and in October 2017, Chiang Mai was declared a UNESCO Creative City for Crafts and Folk Arts.
Thai Tourism Situation
Thailand crossed the 35 million visitor arrivals mark in 2017. This means that tourism arrivals exceeded the goal for the year, so we are anticipating tourism earnings from international tourists of 53 billion US dollars (1.81 trillion Baht). It is a truly remarkable achievement that all members of the Thai tourism industry can take pride in.
The top five destinations for international visitors are: Bangkok, Phuket, Chon Buri, Krabi, and Surat Thani, respectively.
And for 2018, TAT has set a growth target of eight percent in tourism revenue from the international market.
2018 Focus for Thailand to be a Preferred Destination
TAT’s marketing plan 2018 has been designed to serve the purpose of generating revenue and increase visitor arrivals, promote new ideas and follow the development agenda of Thailand 4.0 using the ‘Sufficiency Economy Philosophy’, as well as ‘Inclusive Tourism’ that maintains a balance between the economy, society and the environment.
As 2017 was considered as a challenging year, TAT put its best efforts on tourism marketing in order to stimulate the country’s economy. Many activities; such as, Village to the World, Creative Thailand and The Link were created to highlight the unique Thai local experience.
TAT will use tourism to promote sustainable development with the community as the ultimate beneficiary. We believe this will pave the way for Thailand to be a preferred destination among international visitors.
International Marketing Direction
For the international marketing plan strategy in 2018, TAT has segmented target customers worldwide ranging from first-timers to repeaters, senior citizens to sports enthusiasts. TAT will also emphasise on niche markets including Weddings and Honeymoons, and Ladies, as well as continue to create a brand image as a high-end and Luxury Travel destination.
Gastronomy Tourism will be focussed on more, as it is also one of the tools to boost the development of the country’s economy that is based on the unique Thai culture and ways of life. Some of the highlighted activities are the opening of the Michelin Guidebook Bangkok, and Thailand will host the fourth UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism in May.
The communication strategies for the international market will continue to use “Amazing Thailand”, which has been a popular and well-recognised marketing slogan for 20 years.
In 2018, TAT has added to the brand with a new communication campaign called “Open to the New Shades”.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have to say that the strength of Thailand is diversity, so this communication campaign will focus on the strengths of the country. “Open to the New Shades” uncovers a new perception of attractions in Thailand. The communication campaign will introduce brand-new products to visitors or reveal a new charming character of well-known destinations through creativity. This campaign is aimed at attracting more repeat visitors and also first-time visitors.
From this concept we will look into the million shades of Thailand. We have potential tourism products reflecting this; such as, Gastronomy, Nature/Beach, Arts and Craft, Culture, and Way of Life.
We believe this campaign will help initiate ideas for tourists to explore millions of shades of Thailand that fulfill their new pleasurable experiences even if it is a familiar destination and meanwhile enforce the strength of the locals.
To make you better understand the mood and tone about the products under the “Open to the New Shades”, I would like to show you this VDO.
The future of tourism will lie in the ability of everyone to create their own happiness, especially the emerging generation of young millennials. What could be more fun than designing your own trip with a personalised selection of “Mix and Match options”. The “Amazing Thailand” brand gives you this opportunity all the time wherever you go in Thailand. As such, this new campaign will be customised to accommodate every single target segment and market.
Go Local Campaign
Ladies and gentlemen,
Recently, the Royal Thai Government approved a series of tax deduction measures to boost the local economy in 55 second-tier tourist provinces nationwide all through 2018.
The measures will support TAT’s latest “Amazing Thailand Go Local”, an approach to promote grassroots economics through the tourism industry by driving traffic of international and domestic travel to local communities in these second-tier provinces. The strategy is creating demand and strengthening the supply side for local tourism. This campaign aims to increase the number of tourists in second-tier provinces to not less than 10 million visitors and create income of not less than 311.42 million US dollars (10 billion Baht).
The implemented schemes include privileges, tax rebates for MICE in the targeted areas, interesting events, CSR activities, and of course training programmes, which will enhance competitiveness and strengthen the supply side.
Due to its unbeatable geographic location at the heart of ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific region, Thailand has the best connections with the entire region, for example:
Land borders: There are approximately 30 overland border checkpoints open for travel by international visitors with Cambodia, Lao PDR., Myanmar and Malaysia. There are four Friendship Bridges with Lao PDR, and one with Myanmar with more being planned. The Asian Highway is growing rapidly, and will provide extensive road connectivity beyond the neighbouring countries to both China and India. Rail travel is going to be the next generation of land transport infrastructure to emerge, with high-speed links now in the design and planning stage.
Air connectivity: According to the Airports of Thailand, its international airports serve 135 scheduled and chartered airlines. Low-cost airlines from Vietnam, China, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong are boosting their frequencies to Bangkok as well as other popular tourism destinations; such as, Phuket and Chiang Mai.
Marine connectivity – Phuket, Pattaya and Samui are now home to a number of cruise and yachting marinas. Ferry connectivity is growing with Malaysia and will grow in future with Indonesia, Cambodia and Myanmar.
To build on this expansion, TAT has launched a new “Experience Thailand and More” pocketbook, focusing on four key experiences that enhance its ASEAN Connectivity initiative with new destination combinations. It is also in line with TAT’s latest marketing concept of ‘Open to the New Shades’, which highlights how visitors can discover new perspectives in existing Thai attractions, or indulge in experiences in new tourist attractions in the Kingdom and beyond.”
These ‘Experience Thailand and More’ routes include:
A Journey to ASEAN Ancient Kingdom’, to promote Northern Thailand as a linkage to the historic trails in the North of ASEAN.
‘ASEAN Peranakan and Nature Trail, which links the Andaman coastal cities while highlighting Phuket’s distinctive Peranakan culture and distinctive gastronomic scene.
‘Mekong Active Adventure Trail’ that combines the Northeast (Isan) with Cambodia. The trail showcases Buri Ram as the sports city and is ideal for travellers who love combining sports with adventure travel experiences.
‘ASEAN World-Class Culinary and Heritage Cities’ highlights culinary travel experiences in major and unique cities of Central Region provinces in Thailand, along with those in Malaysia, and Singapore. The route focuses on food culture, local cuisine, world-class restaurants and top things to do in the featured cities with Bangkok as the world’s gastronomic hub.
As the host of the ASEAN Tourism Forum, TAT has organised post-tours that also include a number of ASEAN Connectivity itineraries further strengthening TAT’s commitment to promote ASEAN as a single destination.
I would like to end by thanking all of you for joining us here today and for your ongoing support. I am sure this briefing has given you something to write about. We are looking forward to welcoming you all again in Amazing Thailand. Last but not least, for anyone who still has a question about our communication campaign “Open to the New Shades”, here is the answer.
Thank you and sawasdee khrap.