Networking Lunch Speech by
Mr. Suraphon Svetasreni, Governor of TAT
At Saal Berlin Hall 7, ITB 2013
8 March 2013, 1200-1400 hrs
Members of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good afternoon and sawasdee khrap.
It gives me great pleasure to be here again in Germany, along with members of the Thai travel and tourism industry. We are proud to be long-standing partners of the world’s largest trade show. This year, Thailand has participated in ITB for the 38th time and recognises the role this great event has played in facilitating tourism to Thailand as well as tourism worldwide.
In fact, more than any other year, our country at ITB 2013 and at this Networking Luncheon is represented by top executives from across the spectrum of the Thai tourism industry. Team Thailand is led by Her Excellency the Thai Ambassador to Germany and comprises top executives from the public and private sectors, as well as all of TAT’s Directors in our European and Middle East offices.
At ITB this year, there are 108 Thai representatives from hotels and resorts, tour operators and travel agents, hospitals, spa, airlines and travel related operators from major destinations such as Hua Hin, Phuket, Samui, Pattaya, Krabi, Phangnga, Khao Lak, Rayong, Trat, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima, and Bangkok.
The Thailand Pavilion under the theme of “Amazing Thailand: Always Amazes You” is at No. 221 in Hall 26B.
At the pavilion, we have the tourism information counter to distribute tourism collaterals on various attractions and special tourism activities in Thailand.
One attraction we are proud to mention is the Arts of the Kingdom exhibition in Bangkok. This royally sponsored show at Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall is the best place to appreciate Thailand’s artistic masterpieces.
One of our famous demonstrations at the Thai pavilion is Thai spa therapy and massage session.
This year, TAT has selected a Thai spa operator who is a previous winner of the Thailand Tourism Awards to exhibit the products and services.
Yesterday (7th March), Her Royal Highness Princess Ubol Ratana presided over the Thailand Green Excellence Awards Germany Presentation ceremony. The awards were presented to German travel agents and hotels that are supporting environmental protection in the Thai tourism industry.
- Best Large Tour Operator: Intrepid Travel GmbH
- Best Small Tour Operator: a&e erlebnis:reisen
- Best Green Media: Mr. Harald Schmid (SR3)
- Best Green Corporate: Bayer Thai
Today (8th March), we also organise a “Thailand Mini Mart.” Our TAT overseas offices in Europe have invited some buyers from new markets and niche markets to arrange pre-appointments with sellers from Thailand. 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 focused.
After ITB 2013, TAT will undertake a “Post- ITB Road Show” to Ireland on 11th March and United Kingdom on 13th and 14th March 2013. Both are key source markets for Thailand.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In 2012, Thailand achieved another record-breaking performance, crossing the 22 million mark for the first time.
Two source markets, China and Malaysia, are now generating more than two million annual arrivals each. And four source markets, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and India, are generating more than one million arrivals each.
The TAT is confident that if the global, regional and local situation remains stable, this year will see Thailand receive 24 million arrivals, generating a projected tourism income of 27.87 billion Euros.
In 2012, we received a total of 5.42 million arrivals from Europe, up 9.97% over 2011. The strongest growing source markets were Russia (+25%), Spain (+17.45%) and East Europe (+14.33%). Russia has now become one of five countries from which we get more than one million arrivals a year, with 1.31 million arrivals last year.
This year, we have projected 5.7 million arrivals from Europe and generating over 9.35 billion Euros and average expenditure per trip over 1,620 Euros.
Germany is Thailand’s third highest source market from Europe, after Russia and the U.K. In 2012, Thailand recorded 663,000 German visitors.
On the aviation front, there is no shortage of flights. In addition to the regular flights from long-standing German hubs like Frankfurt and Munich, we now have connecting flights coming from Dusseldorf, Berlin, Hamburg, Nuremberg, and Stuttgart. As of February 2013, there were 26 direct flights scheduled weekly between major cities of Germany and Thailand by Thai Airways International and Lufthansa.
Moreover, Norwegian Air Shuttle plans to launch the long-haul sector Stockholm – Bangkok, 3 flights per week which will be effected on 20th June 2013.
In 2013, we are expecting arrivals from Germany to increase by 5.43% to 699,000.
One of the major reasons for our forecast is that Thailand remains the best value destination for German visitors in Asia. This makes it hugely affordable to people with a wide cross-section of budgets.
Secondly, Thailand is and continues to be a wonderful diverse tourism destination with great beaches, food, spas, hotels, nature, and sports. We have an excellent reputation for product delivery, including an extensive range of natural and cultural attractions from a variety of tourism destinations and activities. So, a combination of affordability and diversity is the key to success.
Well, so much with the figures and head counts. Due to changing consumer behavior, TAT has adjusted its marketing strategies to concentrate more on high-yield visitors – those who are likely to stay longer and spend more.
This is in line with the strategic concept of the TAT Action Plan 2013 “Higher Revenue through Thainess.”
TAT will attract tourists with the Charm of Thainess which includes Thai Experience, Thai Way of Life, and Thai Culture.
Clearly, for Thailand, the age of trying to generate quantitative, numerical growth is over. We are now aiming for the balanced philosophy of enhancing qualitative growth while improving the quality of our products and services.
This strategy will be implemented via a focus on niche markets. Four key target segments in this category are golf, health and wellness, weddings and honeymoons, and ecotourism. We believe it is right to focus on these qualities and niche sectors of the market, as they are more likely to be ‘recession proof.’
We believe we have the right range of products to cater to all four niche markets
Golf: Thailand today has an expansive range of golf tour operators and over 200 top-quality golf courses nationwide. Golfers come from all around the world to play and attend international tournaments.
We hold an annual golf travel mart to provide more networking opportunities. Not only are the courses immaculately designed, but the cost of playing in Thailand is lower than that of many countries.
Thailand will host the 2nd Asia Golf Tourism Convention (AGTC) which will take place in Pattaya, from 29th April to 2nd May, 2013, at the Royal Cliff Beach Hotel. We expect over 150 golf tour operators, all selling Asia-Pacific golf destinations, to attend the event.
Health and wellness tourism is growing rapidly. Thailand is now receiving more than 1.5 million international arrivals for medical treatment per year. Our country is proud to have professional expertise in both prevention and cure. Visitors also come to Thailand to learn how to meditate or apply natural therapies.
Weddings and Honeymoons: Our luxury travel experiences and products have been well-established for decades with a variety of prime properties nationwide. These have been extremely popular with the wedding and honeymoon market.
Furthermore, there has been a recent explosion of many new boutique-style properties designed for discerning guests seeking a comfortable, delectable ambience, high-quality individualized service and, extremely important, total privacy. In 2012, Thailand was named the Best Wedding Destination Award by Travel + Leisure magazine.
Green Tourism: This is another key aspect of the TAT’s strategy. Travellers are willing to pay more for “green” options, as sustainability is becoming an essential part of their daily lives. We will retain a strong focus on a holiday that compliments its environment and the local communities. From quiet treks in the jungles to soft adventure like zip lining, rock climbing, and canoeing. We have green activities for any preference.
In 2013, TAT is undertaking online campaigns to directly tap the premium segments of the tourism industry.
We go online and offline to actively engage with couples coming to Thailand. This will be an extension of the Amazing Thailand, Amazing Romance campaign that was done in February.
Activities include promoting Thailand as the most romantic country in the world, as the most desirable wedding destination and as one of the best places in the world for honeymoons and anniversaries.
Medical tourism is another priority group for us. We will develop www.thailandmedtourism.com to be the Number One portal site for Southeast Asia for all information about medical tourism in Thailand. An online campaign will also run concurrently to give added boost.
To ensure consistent reach to high-end travelers, TAT is launching the Thailand Super Quality Portal in a clear effort to increase both the quality of our tourism products and the quality of foreign visitors to the country. The Mini Site will present the very best of Thailand’s luxury products and services. It will have many online activities, as well as a concerted CRM drive.
The site will be a tool to actively seek out travel trade partners with premium customers to join us in our positioning as a true quality destination.
These campaigns will start around March and April 2013. For more information, you can go to www.tourismthailand.org,
You can register to receive a souvenir at the TAT booth No. 221 in Hall 26B.
All in all, Thailand’s tourism attributes are among the most praised at the international level. According to the FutureBrand Country Brand Index 2012-13 (CBI), Thailand ranked Number One for Value for Money as well as eighth for Tourism, tenth for Food, eleventh for Shopping, tenth for Beach, and ninth for Nightlife in the world-class brand.
Our former international airport Don Mueang Airport has now been opened for low-cost airline flights. Scheduled airlines now based there are Thai AirAsia, Nok Air and Orient Thai while non-scheduled airlines are Solar Air and Nok Mini. Low-cost airlines are growing significantly, especially for short-haul regional connections.
Phuket International Airport is Thailand’s second major gateway after Suvarnabhumi Airport and is being upgraded to accommodate growing numbers, especially as a result of direct flights coming from regional and intercontinental points. The runway is being extended to allow it to receive the A380 aircraft. The passenger terminal will also be expanded to handle 12.5 million annual movements.
In October 2012, Thai Airways International started operating the world’s largest passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380. A total of six A380s will be delivered, raising to new levels the pleasure of travelling to Thailand. As of December 15th 2012, Thai Airways International started service on the Bangkok-Frankfurt route and the Bangkok-Paris route on March 21st, 2013 using this aircraft.
Thai Airways remains one of the world’s most popular airlines, winning a number of awards. These include being named “Best Intercontinental Airline" in the Norwegian Grand Travel Award in 2012 and 2013 and TTG Travel Awards 2012 for Best South-East Asian Airline. Meanwhile, its sister airline Thai Smile is expanding services rapidly, with upcoming direct flights to Phuket from New Delhi, Mumbai and Kuala Lumpur.
Bangkok Airways - In 2013, Bangkok Airways, the first private airline of Thailand, is celebrating its 45th Anniversary. It operates about a hundred flights per day from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport to more than twenty destinations across Thailand and Asia such as Ko Samui, Phuket, Trat, Sukhothai, Maldives, Luang Prabang in Laos, and Siem Reap in Cambodia.
In 2012, Bangkok Airways placed third in the category of Best Regional Airline in Asia at the Skytrax World Airline Awards. Also, it won the “Best Overseas Regional Airline” award in the UK’s “Selling Long Haul Travel Agents Choice” Awards for seven consecutive years from 2006–2012.
Thailand’s geographical location in the heart of Southeast Asia, our unbeatable competitive advantage, will be further bolstered by the positive changes taking place in both ASEAN and the Greater Mekong Subregion or GMS. In terms of ASEAN, the trade and services liberalisation that will come with the ASEAN Economic Community or AEC, by 2015 will boost people movements through and within the 10-member grouping.
Exciting and exotic ASEAN destinations surround Thailand. They include Angkor Wat, Luang Prabang, Halong Bay, and, of course, Myanmar. Thailand is the best holiday-transport hub to reach them.
New Product Update
One of our major objectives now is to diversify our destinations away from the popular spots, especially the beach resorts that visitors like so much.
New resorts we would like to recommend are Ko Tarutao; Ko Lipe in Satun; Ko Muk in Trang; Khanom in Nakhon Si Thammarat; Ko Mak and Ko Kut in Trat; Ko Ta Chai in the Andaman Sea; and Ko Tao in Surat Thani.
In 2013, several major hotel brands will have new properties in Thailand. These include DoubleTree by Hilton in Bangkok, Novotel Phuket Kamala Bay and Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi Golf Resort and Spa, among others. Moreover, there are 93 premium properties from around Thailand here at ITB ready for business, many of which are first-time participants eager to tap into European markets.
In the area of tourist attractions for families, there are also exciting places already opened or on the way. They include the Museum of Floral Culture, the X-Zone with extreme rides at Siam Park City, and Art in Paradise 3D gallery in Pattaya.
New Shopping Area
As you are aware, the fun of shopping in Thailand never ends. Some elegant new shopping centres have emerged that allow visitors to enjoy hunting for bargains or buying brand-name products.
These include the ASIATIQUE The Riverfront, a lifestyle project on the banks of the scenic Chao Phraya River;
The recently revamped and very chic Siam Centre, given a complete makeover and just opened this 11th January;
Central Embassy, a mega-mall project in downtown Bangkok, will add yet another landmark to the city’s shopping scene by the end of this year
The Bluport Hua Hin Resort Mall in the beautiful coastal city of Hua Hin scheduled for opening next year.
Major Event Update
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thailand looks forward to welcoming you to experience our upcoming events starting from:
Songkran Festival: This is one of Thailand’s most famous and popular festivals. The traditional Thai New Year celebration will take place nationwide during mid-April 2013.
65th World Newspaper Congress: During 2nd-5th June 2013, Bangkok will be the host of the 65th World Newspaper Congress, the 20th World Editors Forum and 23rd World Newspaper Advertising Forum.
TTM+ 2013: The Thailand Travel Mart Plus Amazing Gateway to the Greater Mekong Subregion (TTM+2013) will be held between 5th-7th June 2013. It is the country’s premier annual trade event designed to promote travel and tourism to Thailand and its neighbours in the Greater Mekong Subregion.
The year 2013 has gone well so far, without any major global upheavals. Barring any negative developments, Thailand expects to remain at the forefront of the Asia-Pacific tourism industry well into the foreseeable future. Our strengths and competitive advantages will continue to serve us in good stead.
As such, we look forward to working with you, the tour operators and media, for mutual benefit in promoting Thailand as the best destination for your clients and readers. And of course, if you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact TAT overseas offices, who will be glad to assist you.
I would like to thank all of you for joining us here today for your ongoing support.
Before I conclude, we have our brand new TV ad called “Warm Welcome is All Around”. It will give you a good idea of what your clients can expect to find when they visit Amazing Thailand.
Thank you for coming and sawasdee Kharp.