Mumbai: For many Indians, in all likelihood, their first international holiday destination would have been Thailand. And for a lot of Indians, Thailand is also a destination they would love to go back to, many times over. Hence, Thailand Tourism Authority (TAT) is looking at offering newer experiences and destinations to the repeat traveller.
New destinations like Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Ko Chang, Ko Samui, Kanchanaburi, Petchaburi and Krabi woo travellers
“There’s certainly more to Thailand than Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya,” says Soraya Homchuen, Director, Thailand Tourism Authority, Mumbai Office, echoing the new marketing campaign of TAT, ‘Open to the New Shades of Thailand’ launched at WTM London last year. TAT’s ‘Open to the New Shades’ campaign will encourage visitors to discover new perspectives in existing attractions, or indulge in experiences in new tourist destinations. TAT has sub-themes reflecting this such as, Gastronomy, Nature and Beach, Arts and Crafts, Culture and Way of Life.
Some of the examples of the ‘new shades’ of Thailand are: Songkran Festival is celebrated differently in each region; there are 10 kinds of Pad Thai and uncountable types of soups to enjoy. “In 2018, TAT will target specific customer segments like Luxury, Weddings and Honeymooners, Female Travellers, Families and Gen Y,” says Homchuen.
Total tourist arrivals to Thailand touched 35 million in 2017. China is the largest source market for Thailand, followed by Malaysia. 1.4 million Indians visited Thailand last year. Improved connectivity has helped with more than 10 airlines connecting Indian cities to Bangkok. Recently, Air India commenced direct flights from Ahmedabad to Bangkok, adding the eighth Indian city to its Bangkok schedule.
“This year, we will be conducting roadshows in Chennai, Indore, Jaipur and Kolkata,” informs Homchuen.
Some of the new destinations Thailand is promoting are Chiang Mai in the north, Hua Hin, Kanchanaburi and Petchaburi in the central region, Ko Chang in the east, and Ko Samui and Krabi in the south. “Most of these destinations connect well from Bangkok – some by air and others by road and/or ferry. The infrastructure at these new destinations are as good as Bangkok and Pattaya,” assures Homchuen. “But in a place like Kanchanaburi you may want to stay in a floating hotel.”
How many travellers, even the repeat ones know that there is a ferry plying from Hua Hin to Pattaya or Krabi to Phuket? Such new experiences await travellers to Thailand, this time around. MICE is doing very well too, thanks to the focussed efforts of the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB). In November 2017, over 7000 delegates convened in Bangkok for Siggraph Asia. Thailand also hosted the 37th ASEAN Tourism Forum in January 2018, at the Chiang Mai Exhibition and Convention Centre (CMECC). Thailand is hosting the event for the sixth time, but relocated it for the first time to Chiang Mai as part of their policy to promote secondary destinations, create more jobs in rural areas and ensure a better distribution of tourism earnings.