International Tourism Bourse (ITB 2012)
Amazing Thailand Networking Lunch
By Mr Suraphon Svetasreni
Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand
9 March 2012
Members of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Guten Tag, Sawasdee Khrap.
It gives me great pleasure to be back again in Germany, along with members of the Thai travel & tourism industry. We are proud to be long-standing partners of the world’s largest trade show. Thailand has participated in ITB every year since 1976, and recognises the role this great event has played in facilitating tourism to Thailand as well as tourism worldwide. We are also happy to see such a large turnout of guests. As this is not just the world’s biggest trade show but also the busiest, time is of the essence, so I will get straight to the point.
150th Anniversary of Thai-German Relationship
Ladies and gentlemen,
This year marks 150th Anniversary of Thai-German Diplomatic Relations. A number of events and activities are being held throughout the year to commemorate this auspicious occasion. Today, relations between Thailand and Germany have blossomed beyond politics, economics cooperation especially in the areas of science and technology, renewable energy and innovations in which Germany has expertise.
Germany is Thailand’s third highest source market from Europe, after Russia and UK. In 2011, Thailand recorded 619,133 German visitors. Germany used to be our top European country in terms of arrivals. This slippage to third-place status is mainly due to the local economic situation and changes in market and social conditions. It is also due to the fact that arrivals from other European countries are rising more rapidly.
In 2011, we received a total of 5.23 million arrivals from Europe, up 14.65% over 2010. The strongest growing source markets were Russia (+63.52%), Spain (+41.85%), East Europe (+13.48%) and France (+11.68%). Russia has now become one of five countries from which we get more than one million arrivals a year, with 1.01 million arrivals last year.
This year, we have projected 5.43 million arrivals from Europe, up 4.9% over 2011 and generating over 300 billion baht (Euro 7.89 billion) and average expenditure per trip over 50,000 baht (Euro 1,452).
Thailand’s Activities at ITB 2012
At ITB this year, the Thai people are commemorating the auspicious occasion of His Majesty King Bhumibhol Adulyadej’s 84th Birthday and 80th birthday of Her Majesty the Queen and 60th birthday of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn. TAT and Thai tourism industry are proud to present a variety of tourism products under the theme of “Miracle Year of Amazing Thailand”.
At the Thai Pavilion, we are organising a “Thailand Mini Mart”. Our TAT overseas offices in Europe have invited 15-20 buyers from new markets and niche markets to arrange pre-appointments with sellers from Thailand during 9-10 March. We believe this is the way forward in the light of changing global demographics, source markets and marketing conditions. The way of doing business also has to change accordingly to make it more targeted and focussed.
TAT Strategies for 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our projection for 2012 is for 20.586 million international tourist arrivals, generating approximate revenue of 766 billion Baht (Euro 18.66 billion). The projected number for European visitors is 5.4 million, which should generate 314 billion Baht or Euro 7.64 billion in tourism income.
Our strategy for 2012 will focus on Thailand’s brand image, digital marketing, sustainable tourism and effective crisis communications.
For Brand Image, the TAT will continue to reinforce the Thailand brand, “Amazing Thailand Always Amazes You”, with a core focus on Authenticity, Value for Money, and Hospitality. According to the seventh annual FutureBrand Country Brand Index 2011-2012, Thailand ranked number 7 in terms of tourism brand image. We were ranked Number 1 in terms of Value for Money. Thailand was also among the top 10 for key attributes; such as, Food, Beaches, Nightlife, Shopping, and Accommodation.
Digital marketing: 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 chose, 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.
I would like to take this opportunity to announce the launch of two new “Apps”:
The first is called “Lifestyle Thailand” and will meet the needs of 8 lifestyle themes such as Chic, Romance, Adventure, Sea Breeze, Slow, Family, Thainess and Wellness. This “App” aims to provide users with access to hotels, resorts, spa, food shops and tourist attractions that are providing products and services in line with the eight lifestyle themes.
The second App is a useful new tool that helps visitors overcome language barriers, a common complaint. The “SpeakThai Application” acts as your personal & portable translator with over 2,500 practical words that visitors may need to communicate with Thai people. Simply install this app on your phone and you'll have the power to speak basic Thai at your fingertips. The feature is available in 6 native languages (English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, French, Japanese and Russian).
Furthermore, we have 3 more interesting applications which are Amazing Thailand, Green Tourism and Smile Land Game. The Amazing Thailand mobile application covers a variety of over 10,000 contents to help travelers get the most out of their visit to Thailand. Green Tourism application contents comprise Green Destinations and Green Hotels & Resorts and Smile Land Game application is the first Thai tourism game that represents Thainess through games such as Som Tam Sukjai, Muay Thai, Siam Tempo and Siam Fun Fair.
These apps are available for free at http://mobile.tourismthailand.org/ (ON THE POWERPOINT)
The third change is towards sustainability and environmental consciousness in travel products. Hence, we are making conservation and preservation issues very much part of our promotions, too, such as by highlighting ecotourism products, boutique hotels, health and wellness facilities and the Royal Projects. Travellers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their own travel plans. They are willing to pay more for “green” options, as sustainability is becoming an essential part of their daily lives.
TAT has continuously promoted sustainable tourism through the concept of the Seven Greens, which encourages Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) among operators. We collaborate with various partners to identify interesting options for eco-friendly travel; such as, the Green Hotels, the Green Islands of Ko Chang, and newer environmentally-friendly tourism products.
The fourth and final part of the TAT’s strategy will be effective crisis communications. Through a combination of digital media tools and traditional channels, the TAT is able to communicate accurate information that tourists need when a crisis situation occurs. For our online channel, we have a well detailed website which has proven to be helpful for tourists, at www.thailandtourismupdate.com our tourists are able to check all aspects that are related to Thailand’s tourism. For our offline channel we have set up the Tourism Intelligence Unit and Crisis Management Centre (TIC) to monitor the most current information on the Thai tourism industry.
Our most important strategic change is to shift away from mass marketing towards niche-markets targeted at specific customer segments in specific countries. European travellers are perfectly suited for this shift which will now focus on four products: Golf, Wedding & Honeymoon, Green Tourism and Spa & Wellness. European visitors can enjoy all these products at excellent value-for-money prices.
Golf: TAT will highlight on a variety of golf courses, services and golfing events in Thailand. Thailand boasts over 200 high standard golf courses nationwide. In recent years, Thailand has hosted many major golf events such as Thailand Golf Championship 2011 and Asia Pacific Golf Summit 2011.
Wedding & Honeymoon: In recent years, Thailand is becoming increasingly popular among wedding couples and honeymooners. For the European market, TAT will introduce major destinations for wedding events such as beaches, and major romantic attractions in northern Thailand.
Green Tourism: The Thai travel and tourism industry is becoming increasingly conscious of its environmental responsibilities. In 2012, TAT would like to enhance an intensive operation to promote the guidelines of eco-friendly attraction management in major destinations, and focus more on 4 pilot areas; that is, Nan province, Amphoe Pai, Mae Hong Son province, Amphoe Chiang Khan, Loei province, and Ko Samui, Surat Thani province. At present, we have more than 100 green hotels and 50 ready-to-market eco-friendly products around the country
Spa & Wellness: Our health and wellness advantage lies in both prevention and cure. Thailand excels in the quality and diversity of its spa offerings. Thai spas really do have it all — variety and value framed in a perfect blend of Western leisure concepts and traditional Asian well-being therapies. Value for money is an added plus. A harmonious blend of cultural heritage and destination diversity makes Thailand an infinitely attractive spa destination. Thailand is also an excellent place for people seeking to learn how to meditate and massage, based on the country’s long-standing Buddhist traditions.
Marketing Strategies for European Market 2012
These new products will be a critical part of our marketing strategies for Europe in 2012. The strategies will focus on 1) Strengthening Thailand’s brand, 2) Expanding quality market segments, 3) Maintaining the core source-markets; and 4) Strengthening competitiveness.
Strengthening Thailand’s brand: We are conscious of the fact that Europe travellers are becoming more environmentally conscious. In line with this trend, we will be highlighting our Green Tourism products in tandem with the variety of tourist attractions and the value for money factor. To build this image in the European market, TAT will use a number of outlets such as an Outdoor Media Campaign in various European markets, Amazing Thai Taste food festival during the Olympics 2012 in London, and the TUI Summer Catalogue Launch in Phuket.
Expanding quality market segments: TAT will target special-interest and high spending markets such as golfers, wedding & honeymooners, health & wellness travellers. Specific marketing campaigns with these themes will be launched in major markets with catchy slogans and promotional messages.
Maintaining the core source-markets: About 65% of our visitors from Europe are repeaters. We are very pleased with this and hope to maintain it in the years ahead. However, we are also focusing on bringing more first-time visitors, via special campaigns targeted at families and shopping enthusiasts. At least one campaign will seek to position Thailand as a potential summer vacation destination, too.
Strengthening competitiveness: The operation will mainly focus on using online media with all its available opportunities to ensure that the right target market with the right messages at the right time. We plan to build a number of new e-marketing partnerships to enhance the efficiency and visibility of our marketing messages. In addition, TAT European offices plan to undertake five Road Shows in new potential markets to attract more first time visitors. TAT will participate in 35 Trade Shows in Europe by the year 2012.
This year, we are also highlighting the fact that visitors can enjoy many “miracle moments” in a “Miracle year.” We believe that 2012 will be extraordinary year for Thailand, and we plan to use it to enhance our unique selling propositions – our culture, heritage, Buddhist traditions and way of life and our popular festivals – to attract both first-time and repeat visitors. Our core campaign theme is that Amazing Thailand: Always Amazes You. This will be enhanced by the sub-theme that will be a call to action to enjoy the many “miracle moments” Thailand has to offer.
I am also proud to update you with some major upcoming improvements in our infrastructure to keep pace with our projected growth.
Phuket International Airport Expansion: Phuket is now well established as our second main gateway to Thailand and the priority gateway to South Thailand. It is undergoing expansion with additional taxiways, ramps, international passenger terminal, and the renovation of the existing terminal to be the domestic passenger terminal. The Green Building and energy-saving concepts are the terminal’s prominent features using environment-friendly materials. Upon completion in 2014, the airport will be able to handle 12.5 million passengers.
Thai-Lao Friendship Bridges: Thailand has enhanced its position as a gateway to the neighbouring countries of the greater Mekong subregion with the 11 November 2011 opening of the third Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, connecting the northeastern Thai province of Nakhon Phanom with Khammouan province in central Lao PDR. A fourth bridge is under construction to connect Thailand’s Chiang Kong in Chiang Rai and Huay Xai in Bokeo province in Laos. This will be main overland route from China, transiting Laos and connecting with highways in Chiang Rai province to Chiang Mai, Lampang, Phrae, and Phitsanulok all the way to Bangkok. It’s due to open in 2013.
New Bus route linking Thailand and Laos: The Department of Land Transport of Thailand and Department of Public Works and Transport of Laos have launched a new Mekong Region bus service linking two tourist towns, Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang. The 44-seat bus departs daily from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang and takes 18 hours with the fare of 1,200 baht for one-way ticket. At present, there are eight bus routes linking Thailand and Laos.
Major Events in 2012
As mentioned earlier, this year, we are commemorating a number of royal occasions. I would like to invite you to join us in celebrating H.M the King’s 84th birthday on December 5th and Her Majesty the Queen’s 80th birthday on August 12th.
In addition, a number of other very unique events are well worth checking out:
• Due to the “Miracle Thailand Year”, the Songkran (Thai New Year) Festival on 12-15 April and Loi Krathong festival on 28 November will be celebrated with even great gusto throughout Thailand. Songkran is always celebrated with style in Bangkok and major tourist cities. Join one of Thailand’s most popular cultural festivals, the Loi Krathong, or the “festival of lights" which is always celebrated on a full-moon night. A real delight for visitors.
• The Thailand Travel Mart Plus Amazing Gateway to the Greater Mekong Subregion (TTM+2012) will be held between 6-8 June at Impact Muang Thong Thani Exhibition Center. It is the country’s premier annual trade event designed to promote travel & tourism to Thailand and its neighbours in the Greater Mekong Subregion.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We value our long and fruitful relationship with Germany and Europe, and look forward to our meetings at this great trade show to forge stronger partnerships. Thank you for your time here today. I will be happy to take a few questions.