International Tourism Bourse (ITB 2011)
"Amazing Thailand Always Amazes You Networking Lunch ITB 2011"
By Mr Suraphon Svetasreni
Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand
11 March 2011
Mr Vichai Srikwan, Chairman of the TAT Board of Directors, Colleagues of travel and tourism industry, Members of the Media
Ladies and gentlemen, Guten Tag Sawasdee khrap, It is always a pleasure to be at the ITB Berlin and to renew our strong and long-standing relationships with the European travel industry and media. As always, we have seen good business at the Thailand pavilion and are encouraged by your presence here today. Thank you all for both your support and your continued interest.
We also have our Thailand team from the Thai tourism industry joining you, which I think is a good opportunity for both of us to discuss and share ideas on promoting and marketing Thailand as well as further networking.
Firstly, let me tell you about the Thailand Tourism Overview and Marketing Strategies.
In 2010, the world was emerging from the global economic recession and there was plenty of hope and optimism. We are extremely proud that Thailand has pulled off a remarkable recovery in our travel industry last year. Thanks to the hard work of all the related government agencies, the private sector, and all our supporters and partners abroad, we were able to achieve our set goals for the year.
Another important new project that cannot be missed is being implemented on Chang Island of Trat Province under the International Climate Initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration, Thailand, and TAT. The goal is to bring all stakeholders together to integrate climate change into tourism planning and management and promote climate-friendly tourism as well as incorporate environmental management tools as part of the existing standards and labels. You can find out more information on Thailand go green at our green zone at the Thailand Pavilion of TAT Stand, no. 221, Hall no. 26B.
International visitor arrivals to Thailand totalled 15.84 million, a good growth of 12 percent over 14.14 million in 2009, and we received 585 billion Baht or 14 billion Euros. For 2011, TAT is targeting 15.5 - 16 million international visitor arrivals with projected revenue earnings of 600 billion Baht or 14.2 billion Euros in tourism revenue.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The reason we are here with you today at ITB is because we want to work with you to increase outbound tourist traffic to Thailand. Please allow me to outline how we aim to support you and how you can be a part of the Amazing Thailand team as we move forward.
First of all, we will strengthen the Thailand brand image through our Amazing Thailand campaign, which has incorporated all of our marketing activities for Thai travel and tourism products.
To further build on this campaign, for this year, we have added the tagline “always amazes you” in order to reinforce the positive emotions visitors associate with the unique charm of “Thai-ness,” the hospitality and friendliness of the Thai people, and our unique art and culture. All these are the factors that differentiate our kingdom from other holiday destinations.
Let me give you an idea of the direction of the Thai tourism industry. In the past, the focus of Thai tourism development was on social and economic development; however, we have changed direction and are now focusing on minimizing the ecological impact of tourism. TAT has considered three key dimensions of tourism – the economy, environment, and society – to ensure long-term, sustainable tourism marketing for the future.
We have called this the “balanced strategy”, which covers monetary value and emotional value that will strengthen the Thailand Brand with emotional value in which visitors will always have good memories and always be amazed just like it was their first time.
We will also balance our market structure to equally emphasize on international and domestic travel. Given that TAT is already highly focused on international tourism, we will encourage greater domestic tourism as a part of life for Thais and Thailand residents.
Also in the case of unforeseen events like economic downturns or natural disasters, we will use short-term market recovery initiatives with a ‘Quick Win’ strategy with campaigns of targeted special offers to bring back tourists quickly.
The next element is to compensate for arrivals in the traditional peak winter period and low season by promoting Green Tourism products to make Thailand a year-round destination.
Now, I would like to give you some highlights about the European market.
Arrivals from Europe have historically played a major role in the development of our tourism industry, and we are glad to see this trend continuing for the future.
The United Kingdom topped the list with 818,000 arrivals, followed by Germany with 612,000, and Russia with 611,000. European visitors stayed an average of 14 days and spent an average of 3,600 Baht or 83 Euros per person per day, generating about 206 billion Baht or 4.2 billion Euros for the Thai economy. Tourism receipts from the European market generated 40 percent from our total markets.
Our market profile statistics show that the European market shares 28 percent of the total market. 86 percent of European visitors are independent travellers or FITs, and 63 percent of this figure is repeaters. In 2011, European visitors to Thailand are expected to total 4.45 million.
On the aviation front, aviation capacity from European countries to Thailand in 2010 totalled 12,000 flights and 3.80 million seats. Germany led the list with a total of 2,000 flights and around 740,000 seats, followed by the UK with 1,700 flights and 620,000 million seats, and Russia with 1,400 flights and 450,000 seats.
Let me introduce some of new marketing campaigns, we would like to push this year for the European markets, all of which we require your support to make them work.
Firstly, since Thailand is the international aviation hub of Asia, each year, over 40 million passengers pass through Suvarnabhumi Airport. And Thailand has received a total of 3.42 million transfer passengers through our international airports and we saw that this would be a captive market we could capitalise on; thus, we have come up with a new campaign, the “Bangkok Stopover Amazing Offers”.
This objective of this project is to encourage long-haul Europeans travellers to break their trip by stopping over in Bangkok for a few days during their flights. Our programmes offer visitors a sample of what Bangkok and the surrounding environs have to offer.
With the new airport rail link, visitors can quickly and easily access the city for some sightseeing or shopping. Other than that, for this campaign, we also offer a voucher for a variety of remarkably unique experiences in Bangkok; such as, spa and wellness, temples and palaces, theme parks, fine dining plus more. This is a very good “appetizer” marketing programme, as it will encourage them to come back for a “main course” of a longer holiday later.
This project will start in April 2011. We have chosen this ITB for the soft launch. Target markets are transfer travellers from key European cities, especially London, Paris, Stockholm, Moscow and others.
Secondly, TAT will place emphasis on maintaining the country’s share of the global leisure market. Thailand remains a major long-haul and the best value-for-money destination for the European visitors. In addition, Thailand has also been voted to be the best value for the UK market and best destination for the Sweden and Norway markets making this the eighth consecutive year that our country has received this award. At the same time, we are pursuing first-time visitors in new markets like East Europe and the CIS.
We will work in cooperation with strategic partners and airlines by offering travel incentives and packages to let your clients known that Amazing Thailand still has Amazing Value for the European Holidaymakers.
Thirdly is the family market in which we have initiated some niche tourism products. This starts with our broad range of accommodation and exemplary service standards that are perfectly placed to serve family travellers. At the same time, we have many activities for families to do together including golf, spa and wellness, and medical tourism.
Thailand is already very popular among golfers in Europe, and we now plan to build on this by capitalizing on a new trend: golfing families. This will focus on family members to undertake golfing activities together like the ‘Father and Son’; ‘Mum and Me’ project and make Thailand become the golf paradise for families.
For spa and wellness and medical tourism facilities, these enable family members to enjoy rejuvenating together in a spa or relaxing with a Thai massage after a day of sightseeing, as well as having their health checked in international standard hospitals with well-equipped facilities and quality services. For example, a visit to a doctor or dentist in Europe requires booking in advance whereas in Thailand, this is not the case. For more information please check our portal site www.thailandmedtourism.com.
During ITB, TAT is also cooperating with EVA Air in a project “Amazing Thailand Amazing Family” in order to encourage family groups to travel to Thailand. The airline will offer a special package for 2 adults and 1 child. The ticket is available during March – October 2011. This will also help boost family travel during the green season. The operations will start in the 3 markets of London, Amsterdam, and Vienna.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As you are well aware, Thailand has a large segment of 63 percent of repeat travellers from Europe; thus, we will promote repeat visitors plus green tourism experiences.
To promote our Go Green Go Thailand Campaign, we have an assortment of products in the fields of responsible tourism, sustainability, and ecotourism. These products include numerous villages nationwide which have been surveyed and are qualified for inclusion under Community-Based Tourism or CBT that also includes bird watching trips, eco-friendly diving, bicycling tours, and nature walks.
TAT together with the Thailand Ecotourism and Adventure Travel Association or TEATA and the European Union organised a fam trip for European buyers and media to give them a first-hand experience to promote numerous eco-friendly products along four suggested routes.
The Flavours and Fragrances of Central Thailand that visited Amphawa, Samut Songkhram and Phetchaburi;
The Charm of Isan in Nakhon Ratchasima and Khao Yai;
At the Cultural Crossroads in Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai;
and the Spirit of Lanna in the Lower North in Lamphun and Lampang.
These routes covered different parts of Thailand. The carefully-planned itineraries were designed to showcase the best of Thai cultural heritage as well as the preservation of traditional Thai life, art, and local wisdom.
Besides, we have recently published “Thailand 50 Great Green Escapes” that we hope this guide book will help facilitate you to package Thailand’s green products to your clients.
Also hotels and resorts in Thailand are now being recognized for their environmental efforts through the Green Leaf Certification Programme, and at present, we have 220 Green Leaf hotels and 535 smoke-free hotels.
In addition, I would like to inform you that this year TAT has also initiated the first Green Awards Presentation Ceremony at ITB. The award winners were from travel agents and hotels in Germany and Thailand whose products reflect responsible tourism concepts. The presentation ceremony was held yesterday at the Thai Pavilion.
TAT also plans to focus on other niche groups; such as, the growing number of female travellers, wedding and honeymooners. Also in the pipeline are high-profile campaigns that involve celebrities, well-known personalities, and European superstars. Some examples include:
Beauty and the Star: Thailand has been a backdrop destination for beauty pageant and reality show top model contestants in European countries in which they have participated in various activities.
For the project of Thailand I Love U or “Ya Vas La Blu”: TAT will invite Russian celebrity couples to get married in Thailand.
“Diving with Superstars”: Specifically for the German market, TAT will invite a German super-model to be a presenter of a film diving series in Thailand.
Ladies and gentlemen,
No tourism marketing promotion can ignore the impact of online media and social networking, in which we are aggressively expanding our efforts. For the main
TAT and in-market websites, we will introduce two-way communications and add more activities to engage visitors. These will be developed to be a channel for offering special deals to our business partners, so we can highlight the special packages you offer to customers.
Our websites tourismthailand.org and others will also be used to maximum effect to provide the latest information on Amazing Thailand and Amazing Products, and will provide information about Thailand via mobile phones. QR Code and E-book. Our aim is to drive the demand for travel to Thailand that will bring more customers in through the doors of your travel agency.
Already our efforts in this area is being recognized, as we are particularly proud to have received the PATA Gold Awards 2011 on Marketing, Primary Government Destination “Amazing Thailand social networking” and “Amazing Thailand Mobile Application” in the category of marketing campaign awards.
Another online marketing and social media channel which we are utilising to very good effect is the Thailand Fan Club or Thailand Fan Card, which now has 56,000 members amongst European consumers, and is growing strongly. A special consumer relationship marketing campaign or CRM will be launched directly targeted at the Fan Club members by offering a range of privileges to members who have travelled to Thailand frequently.
And as many of you aware, Thailand is the logical natural gateway to the Mekong Subregion. A number of significant roads, highways, and infrastructure improvements continue to link us more closely with our neighboring countries of Cambodia Lao PDR., Myanmar, Vietnam, as well as Southern China. We have successfully connected the twelve-hundred kilometre R3A Highway between Thailand and Lao PDR. that reaches to Kunming, China.
Another key road network is known as the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC) -- the R9, linking Vietnam, Lao PDR., Thailand, and Myanmar. The East-West Economic Corridor which ends at Vietnam's Da Nang City. It will also open its transportation to the South China Sea and connect with countries outside the region. This will allow us to better package and position Thailand as a gateway to this important tourist region.
The establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015 is similar to the European community and will transform ASEAN into a region with free movement of people, goods, services, investment, skilled labour, and freer flow of capital. Today, TAT and the Thai tourism business are working to improve service standards and enhancing their competitiveness in preparation for the changes to come.
The other way in which TAT will support you is through partnerships. We are encouraging joint marketing and advertising with special offers for trade partners. TAT is implementing more focused and targeted online marketing management to update our trade partners with the latest information on travel and tourism products and services. We will tap more into new social media channels and digital opportunities to promote market segments.
TAT will also ensure we keep our travel partners and your frontline staff updated with details about new developments, products and services in Thailand, and will continue to broaden our strategic alliances. We will also organize briefings and seminars for tour companies as well as agent and media educational trips.
We have 6 offices in Europe in London, Frankfurt, Paris, Stockholm, Rome, and Moscow that will work closely hand in hand with you and will be very happy to provide you with any information on our campaigns and products.
Finally, let me give you some upcoming events for this year that will attract considerable interest for European travellers to Thailand.
This year is marked as an auspicious occasion for the Thai people to celebrate His Majesty the King’s 7th Cycle Birthday Anniversary 5th December 2011 in which there will be major celebrations nationwide of pomp and splendour. One of the important events to celebrate this special occasion is the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek 2011 that will be held in Chiang Mai during 9 November 2011 to 15 February 2012.
We also have magnificent pieces of art of the Thai kingdom that showcase at the Thai Pavilion. These were brought by Her Majesty the Queen’s Support Foundation.
Over 500 media and tour operator representatives worldwide will be invited to a Mega Fam Trip for the Songkran Festival during 8 to 11 April.
And between 27 to 29 September, the World Sports Tourism Conference, World Sports Destination Expo, and International Sports Tourism Conference will be held in Bangkok.
Distinguished guests, dear friends,
I hope this briefing has given you a quick overview of some of our new products, policies, and promotions. I would like to end by thanking all our partners and friends in Germany, Europe, and many other parts of the world for their friendship, commitment, and support for our “Amazing Thailand Always Amazes You”.
Thank you for your time and for being with us today.