Published on : Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Dr Walailak Noypayak, executive director, ASEAN, South Asia and Pacific region Development, Tourism Authority of Thailand in an exclusive interview with the Travel and Tour World during the sidelines of Amazing Thailand Roadshow to India, speaks on how the popular destination keeps attracting more tourists, its expanding hospitality sector and more.
Travel and Tour World: What are your growth goals for the upcoming period and how do you plan to surpass competitors like Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Indonesia and Malaysia?
Dr Walailak Noypayak: South Asia received a very good growth of about 50% in 2018. Indian is a major market for us and we have seen a good response from here. For other markets like Malaysia we received nearly 3.5 million visitors and is the second most generating market for Thailand. Maldives also we are going to promote wellness and health tourism.
Sri Lanka shares a close culture, mainly Buddhists, and they spent a lot of time in China for shopping and entertainment and we received a good number from Sri Lanka. We promote tourist from Australia, New Zealand, they bring a lot of tourist to China, nearly nine thousand a year from China and about 200 thousand from New Zealand.
Travel and Tour World: What are the challenges in your field?
Dr Walailak Noypayak: We are focusing on quality market, people who spend more in Thailand people who spend less and stay longer. For more tourists spending we have to focus on mid to high income group. We have to change the perception of Thailand as value for money destination which doesn’t mean cheap destination it means affordable for every sector, even we target the luxury sector .You can see a very high quality while paying for lesser than other tourist destination. It is important for us to change the perception of the tourists specially the first time visitors.
Travel and Tour World: How does your country plan to promote sustainable tourism, now that your country has acquired Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) status?
Dr Walailak Noypayak: Sustainable tourism is the core objective of TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) and we have partners like the corporate companies from Thailand, they join hands with us to create awareness about sustainable tourism, especially the zero plastic bags. Five years from now all beach destinations will not use it and people will be made aware of not to use plastic bags.
Travel and Tour World: How are you working with other regional boards to promote tourism?
Dr Walailak Noypayak: We have attended many seminars, meetings, UNWTO programmes in Thailand and aim to focus on sustainable tourism and green tourism initiative for long time. For Samui Island we have the project Samui Going Green, tourism stay for all the island has to join hands to create awareness and have activities to promote sustainability.
Travel and Tour World: Thailand hosted 1.4 million tourists in 2017. How will it make a mark in 2018 what strategies are undertaken to lure more tourists?
Dr Walailak Noypayak: Thailand is very popular destination right now we have seen 35 million visitors but we will focus on taking new imitative. You can go to Bangkok and plan more experiences, indulge in local experiences like going to the market and cooking together with the local and contributing to the local economy.
Travel and Tour World: How has the meetings industry evolved in the last decade?
Dr Walailak Noypayak: We saw a good increase from the MICE sector and we are at par with Singapore and Hong Kong. But they just cater to city tourism we provide more that you can enjoy post and pre tours. What we can offer more than other destination is that you can have meeting in Bangkok and experience more outside in Pattaya which is a beach destination. We can say that Thailand is a top MICE destination in Asia.
Travel and Tour World: How is the One Belt One Road initiative doing in Thailand?
Dr Walailak Noypayak: On Belt One Road initiative in Thailand in the policies of the Thai government seeks more cooperation with China. It is also promoted by the UNWTO, we are its member,we have meetings and try to make two countries one destination under cooperation between Thailand and China.
Travel and Tour World: How has the hotel and hospitality industry expanded in the last five years?
Dr Walailak Noypayak: We are very strong in terms of local investors, and the hotel industry is going to be stronger and stronger, they invest more in other countries.Many hotel chains invest in countries based in South Asia like Sri Lanka and Maldives. The good news is that the Thai hospitality business is not just for Thailand but is expanding in other countries.
Travel and Tour World: How the homestay concept has been catching up in your country?
Dr Walailak Noypayak: We try to strengthen the homestay people (people involved in the business) by the ministry of Tourism and Sports and a dedicated team to use the advise.