Cholada Siddhivarn, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)Mumbai Office shares what the popular destination has to offer travellers of all segments:

How well did TAT do in India in 2018? What are the targets for 2019?
According to the preliminary statistics from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Thai tourism industry recorded total international arrivals of 38.15 million in 2018, up 7.2 per cent, generating an estimated 1.99 trillion Baht or $60,300 in tourism revenue, up by 9 per cent over last year. Arrivals from India topped 10 of the list with arrivals up by 12.84 per cent to 1.596 million. As the target for India market in 2019, we wish to have 10 per cent growth for tourist arrival and 16 per cent growth for revenue.

Which segments are performing well? Are you targeting any new segments? Why?
Indian travellers are now looking for experiential travel instead of just “to see” the destination. They want to explore newer destinations apart from the mainstream ones. The first mover policy is the key attraction in today’s day and age. Our key segments Women Travellers, Luxury, Family, Wedding and Honeymooners are doing exceptionally well. We are looking to target more Young Travellers, which is one of the new segments we have noticed a traction in.

How are the MICE and Weddings & Honeymoon segments doing?
We have seen a rise in this segment as well. Thanks to the agents and wedding planners, we are sure this year we shall be hosting a lot more of Indian weddings and MICE.

How has the ‘New Shades’ campaign been received from an India perspective?
The campaign has been well-received as travellers are now exposed to attractions which earlier were not known to them. We have received a lot of support from our trade partners as it helps them offer newer products to repeat travellers. We aim to target young travellers and showcase Thailand’s all-new attractions.

What prompted you to waive the visa on arrival fee? What has been the impact?
The fee waiver move comes at a perfect time when Thailand is set to celebrate the Thai New Year (Songkran) in April. The Thai government is expecting the visa-on-arrival fee waiver to bump up tourism by at least 30 per cent. The offer has worked really well.

Which are the new destinations you are promoting to attract repeat visitors?
TAT has launched the marketing campaign ‘Open to the New Shades of Amazing Thailand’ to introduce new shades of Beach and Nature, Thai Way of Life, Art and Craft, Gastronomy and Thai Culture to the world. The idea is to showcase new shades of Thailand to repeat travellers.

The Bangkok night bike, a magical evening spent cycling off the beaten path exploring some of its most famous sites; Bangkok food tour, which puts together the “must-try” street food from a famous and popular shop in Bangkok, Pad Thai, Mango Sticky rice, Fried noodle, Som Tum are just some of the examples. The North of Thailand like ChiangMai and Chiang Rai are the destinations that we will bring to India market more. Besides, Mae Hong Son, the hidden gem of the North is one of the destinations that we will introduce to the Millennial segment as part of community-based tourism.

We also keep introducing new or lesser known destinations like Chanthaburi, where tourists can enjoy seafood, local life and scenic routes called Nern Nang Paya, a driving route along the sea from Chanthaburi to Rayong. The latter is where tourists can enjoy island-hopping. Ko Samed is known for its white sand beaches while Ko Talu is a place to enjoy snorkelling. If you head to the North of Thailand, Chiang Mai is a must-visit city. It is the center of Lanna culture. You can experience it through arts and crafts, architecture, food and local life. The weather is cooler than the central region of Thailand especially from November to January as Chiang Mai is the mountainous area. The Royal Projects are not to be missed.

Can you tell us about your go-to market plans in India in 2019?
We will focus on segments of Women Travellers, Luxury, Family, Wedding and Honeymoon and Millennial Travellers as India is set to become the youngest country in the world by 2020 when the median age will be 29 years.


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