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Published on : Tuesday, November 5, 2013
On behalf of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, I would like to thank you all for being with us today, as well as for both your support and continued interest in Thailand’s tourism industry. It is always a pleasure to be in London. As always, we have seen good business at the Thailand pavilion and are encouraged by your presence here today.
At WTM this year, we have a total of 69 companies and other institutions represented, comprising of 57 hotels and resorts, seven tour operators and travel agents, and five other related agencies.
This year, the Thai pavillion bears the theme “World Event: Romantic Thailand” to focus Thailand as a destination for weddings and honeymoons. Visitors can also enjoy a Thai spa demonstration at the Thai pavillion. Promoting health and wellness as well as weddings and honeymoons are very important components of our niche-market strategy designed to raise the yield per visitor.
Today, Her Royal Highness Princess Ubolratana will preside over the “Thailand Green Excellence Awards” ceremony for travel agents and media in the United Kingdom who play a vital role in supporting ecotourism in Thailand. In the evening, we will organise the “Amazing Thailand Night: Royal Gala Dinner at the Claridge Hotel.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Thai tourism industry has come a long way since we began promoting Thailand as a holiday destination in the early 1960s. Allow me to give you a brief roundup of the Thai tourism situation. In 2012, Thailand achieved another record-breaking performance, crossing the 22 million mark for the first time. Two source markets, China and Malaysia, are now generating more than two million annual arrivals each. And four source markets – Japan, Russia, South Korea, and India – are generating more than one million arrivals each.
In January to June 2013, Thailand’s visitor arrivals surged to a record total of a little over 13 million (13,071,509), up by 23.09 per cent over the same period of 2012, according to figures published by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.
The European market has long been a major market of Thai tourism. Of the 13 million visitor arrivals in Jan-Jun 2013, a total of 3.09 million arrivals were from Europe, a market share of 23.69% and an increase of 11.25% over the same period of 2012.
The United Kingdom is now our second largest market out of Europe. Thailand welcomed over 400,000 (410,538) UK visitors, up 3.07 per cent over the Jan-Jun 2012 period. Given the recent economic conditions in the UK, we think that is a very acceptable figure.
In January – March 2013, UK visitors had an average length of stay of roughly 17 days per person per visit, well above the 10-day average of all visitors to Thailand.
In the same period, UK visitors had an average daily expenditure of 3,800 Baht or about (£75), up 6.52 per cent. This generated a total of about 16 billion Baht or about (£317 million) in foreign exchange revenue, up about 8.3 per cent.
In 2013, we are projecting 838,000 visitor arrivals and earnings of 57 billion Baht (£1.1 billion) from the UK market.
All this growth, and indeed the growth in the entire travel and tourism industry worldwide, has been the direct result of geopolitical peace and economic stability, mainly in the Asia-Pacific region, and the absence of any major environmental disasters or health pandemics or local disturbances such as those which occurred almost annually in the first decade of the 21st century.
TAT is confident that if the global, regional and local situation remains stable, Thailand will receive 26.26 million arrivals, generating a projected tourism income of 1.18 trillion Baht (£22 billion) in 2013, which is over the target of 24.14 million visitors and 1.1 trillion baht (£21 billion) for tourism income.
Looking to the future, we are targeting a growth of 7% to 28 million tourists in 2014, who are expected to generate a projected a growth of 13% for tourism income to 1.32 trillion Baht (£26 billion).
The core theme of the TAT Action Plan 2014 is “Higher Revenue through Thainess”. This will mean emphasising our unique selling proposition, which is the Charm of Thainess, especially the Thai Experience, Thai Way of Life, and Thai Culture.
The marketing plan for 2014 is designed to increase the share of middle and upper income tourists. The TAT estimates that these groups of tourists comprise about 30 per cent of all visitors to Thailand, with potential to grow to 40 per cent. TAT will put more effort into increasing first-time visitors and high spenders.
All the strategies are in line with the national economic and social development objectives of better income distribution nationwide, creating jobs in the rural areas, and creating a more balanced and harmonious society.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In line with the above-mentioned strategy, we have decided to focus on honeymoons and weddings as the primary target market to be promoted in the UK market.
Our luxury-travel experiences and products have been well-established for decades.
In recent years, we have seen a surge in the development of new boutique-style, pool-villa properties designed for discerning guests seeking a comfortable, delectable ambience, high-quality individualised service and, extremely importantly, total privacy. These are now proving extremely popular with the weddings and honeymoons market.
In addition, there are other niche-market products that will be of interest, such as ecotourism and soft adventure activities. Thailand has many national parks and wildlife sanctuaries that offer plenty of opportunities for trekking, mountain climbing, rock climbing, and cave exploring
In 2014, we are expecting the opening of Cartoon Network Amazone Water Park, a theme park that will work wonders for the family market. It will be located in Bang Saray, just a few kilometres south of Pattaya.
Of course, many of you are familiar with our health & wellness products, which offer a broad range of both prevention and cure facilities. Visitors can avail of traditional therapies, East-and-West spa treatments, medical check-ups, Anti-Aging, Detoxification and Holistic treatments. Thai hospitals have received international quality standard certification and offer a wide range of services with competitive prices.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Digital marketing will play an increasingly important role in the tourism sector. The Internet has changed consumer behaviour in many ways, both in terms of the way people buy their travel products, the destinations they choose, the amount of time they have to travel and the amount of money they spend. Search and recommendation tools are increasingly important. People are eager to share experiences via social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
We are monitoring all these changes closely and adjusting our strategies accordingly. Indeed, the TAT has been using digital marketing to promote Thai tourism for many years, and we will continue to tap into a wider pool of travellers through social networks, online games, and mobile applications such as “Lifestyle Thailand” and “SpeakThai Application”.
TAT has also launched the Thailand Super Quality Portal in an effort to increase both the quality of our tourism products and the quality of foreign visitors. The Mini Site will present the very best of Thailand’s luxury products and services. It will have many online activities, as well as a concerted CRM drive. Since launching this campaign in April 2013, we now have 800 operators and 14,078 members registered on the website.
One example of our online footprint in the digital domain is The Little Big Project, a global digital marketing Volunteer Tourism competition we ran earlier this year to inspire worldwide travellers to take a volunteer vacation in Thailand. This campaign won the Digital Innovation Asia Award 2013.
Tourism success has brought Thailand much international recognition and worldwide fame. Thailand is consistently ranked among the world’s leading travel and tourism destinations in international surveys. Our products and services win numerous awards every year. In 2013, Bangkok and Chiang Mai, our two top tourist destinations, have ranked highly in prestigious surveys by Travel + Leisure Magazine and TripAdvisor and Bangkok topped the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index for 2013.
Recently, Thailand has won the awards as the “Winner of Destination of the Year” from the TTG Travel Awards 2013. Also, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, two Thai companies and Phuket City Municipality have scooped up six of the 26 PATA Grand & Gold Awards.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Before I conclude, allow me to unveil a new global marketing and promotion tagline to reflect our positioning and core values as we go forward. We are proud to be launching this new tagline at the WTM.
To discover the key differentiation, we sought the source of what instills the charm of “Thai-ness.” The Kingdom of Thailand offers a unique experience for visitors. This is because ourpeople are why Thailand is so amazing. They are at the centre of the journey. Inspired by this feeling, the line has become: “Amazing Thailand. It begins with the people.”
This tagline speaks to the increasingly human-centric aspect of Amazing Thailand. It deepens the emotional value of visiting the country, one that is linked to its people in their attitude, hospitality and spirit. It is a core component of our adherence to the Marketing 3.0 concept whereby customers are treated as the complex, multi-dimensional human beings that they are. Today’s travellers are choosing destinations and services that satisfy deeper needs for participation, creativity, community, and idealism.
Thainess in the culture, art, food and way of life as it has been embodied in the spirit of the people is communicated with this line. But what is Thainess? It is the peace of mind found at the beaches, mountains, waterfalls and islands; the dedication in Thai art, history, handicrafts and national festivals; the blending of tradition and modernity and the simplicity of living with nature. These are what drive an emotional connection with visitors to Thailand and lead them to sharing their experiences with family and friends and returning year after year to Thailand, where “It begins with the people.”
Let us preview where ‘it begins with the people’ comes from. (sample VDO)
Ladies and gentlemen,
Before I conclude, I would like to personally invite you all to join us in observing a number of major festivals and events, which are to be held to ensure a lively and vibrant calendar of activities for the years 2013 and 2014.
Loi Krathong Festival, 15-17 November, 2013, in major tourist attractions; such as, Asiatique the Riverfront in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, and Ayutthaya. The festival is one of the country’s most picturesque celebrations.
New Year Countdown, 31 December, 2013 – 1 January, 2014. Welcome the New Year in Bangkok and major cities like Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Songkhla, Phuket and Khon Kaen. All these destinations come alive with parties and celebrations.
Muay Thai Live – The Legend Lives; this first-of-its-kind stage spectacular will be performed live on stage every night in a beautiful new 600-seat theatre in January 2014 at Asiatique the Riverfront, Bangkok.
“Weddings & Honeymoons in February” – To mark this month of love, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is proud to present a number of unique and memorable ways for wedding and honeymooning couples to either tie the knot or enjoy the honeymoon of a lifetime. Here are some of the unique ceremonies on offer: An Underwater Wedding Ceremony in Trang province that promotes the truly spectacular natural seaside and marine resources and promotes this southern province as a “Romantic Destination”.
Wedding Ceremony in a sea of a “Million Red Lotuses”. The Red Lotus is a flower unique to the Kumphawapi Nature Reserve in Udon Thani province. When in full bloom, it is truly a spectacular sight to behold.
Songkran Festival will be held during 12-16 April, 2014; a fun-filled national festival that commemorates the role of water in Thai social, cultural, economic and spiritual life. It includes the annual bathing of Buddha images at temples and homes across the country.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to conclude on a personal note. This WTM has a trace of some personal sadness for me. It will be my last in an official TAT capacity.
Next month, I will be retiring after a career of 36 years with the TAT, including four years as Governor. I cannot begin to tell you what a wonderfully enriching and enlightening experience this has been. I will leave with many fond memories, especially the warm relationships I have enjoyed with many of you over the years. I would like to thank you all for your personal and professional support, both to me, and the people of Thailand.
Once again, thank you for being with us today. We count the British and Europeans as good friends of Thailand. Thailand has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the United Kingdom and Europe, and I am sure this will continue for many years in future. Now, I would like to introduce my successor, Mr.Tawatchai Arunyik who is well-known to some of you, dating back to his tenure as Director of the TAT office in the UK 10 years ago. With the continued support of the many friends that he has in the UK, I know he will do a great job.