Bangkok, 5 March, 2015 – The Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Tourism and Sports joined hands for the first time to hold a business and tourism promotion event in India designed to position Thailand as a “Gateway to ASEAN.”
Mumbai, the commercial capital of India, was chosen for this inaugural event in view of the geographical proximity between Thailand and India, the strong transportation linkages and their long-standing bilateral economic, cultural and political relations.
About 500 Indian businessmen, industrialists and investors attended the day-long event which included a half-day of policy speeches and briefings and another half-day of tourism promotion. A number of Indian businessmen based in Bangkok, including members of the Thai-Indian Chamber of Commerce, flew to India especially to attend the function.
Minister of Tourism and Sports H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, and Minister of Commerce H.E. General Chatchai Sarikallaya both gave speeches outlining the policies of their respective ministries to build stronger trade, tourism and investment relations with India.
The Commerce Ministry’s slogan theme calls on Indian business to “Think Thailand” when seeking opportunities in the ASEAN market. The Ministry of Tourism and Sports’ slogan theme is “2015 Discover Thainess” to attract upmarket, high-spending Indian visitors; such as, weddings and honeymooners, MICE delegates and sportspeople.
A full list of trade fairs being held in Thailand were provided to the Indian delegates, covering sectors; such as, agriculture, fashion, jewellery, health and beauty, automotive, travel, logistics and furniture. This will contribute to a growth in Indian MICE delegates and business travellers.
General Chatchai outlined the three-phase game plan under which the interim government of Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha would rebuild and restructure the social and economic systems, and then hold elections.
He noted that infrastructure development was a key part of this, especially the Asian Highway network both within Thailand and through Myanmar to the northeast provinces of India.
The inclusion of the tourism component added an atmosphere of colour and entertainment to the day-long event, with demonstrations of Thai boxing and Thai dance. A number of places were set up for Indian delegates to enjoy Thai massage.
Tourism Minister H.E. Kobkarn noted that India was one of the key priority countries for Thailand in order to better balance and diversify its source markets
She said, “We are expecting that Indian arrivals across all customer and market segments, especially business travellers and visitors to conventions and exhibitions, will grow exponentially in the future as the free-trade agreements between India and ASEAN are implemented and make progress.
“I would like to take this opportunity to assure you that the Royal Thai Government is committed to upholding the status of the Thai tourism industry, aiming to be a value creation genuine yet innovative destination while keeping the balance between business, local people and the environment to achieve a Sustainable Global Tourist Destination,” she said.
In 2014, Thailand welcomed 946,269 Indian visitors, a slight drop over 2013. However, this year a bounce back is projected to 1.05 million arrivals.
Indians get visa on arrival facilities at Thailand’s international checkpoints. And there is no shortage of airline capacity, with 140 weekly flights with more than 30,000 seats by Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, Air India, Jet Airways, Indigo Airlines, Spice Jet, Druk Air, Tashi Air (Bhutan Airline) (as of 8 February 2015).
Indian leisure travellers generally go shopping and sightseeing in Bangkok and Pattaya with an increasing number also heading to Phuket, Chiang Mai, Ko Samui, Chiang Rai, Krabi, Ayutthaya and Ko Chang (Trat). Recent years have also shown a marked rise in the number of Indian film-makers, MICE delegates, wedding parties and honeymooners.
In 2014, Thailand won eight Indian tourism awards; such as, Best Wedding Destination, Best Destination, Best International Tourism Board, Best Spa Destination and Best Value Destination.
Ms. Soraya Homchuen, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Mumbai office said, “We are extremely pleased with the strong turnout and response to the event. Indian businessmen are quick to spot opportunities, and we believe they will take full advantage of the opportunity offered by the opening up of ASEAN, and Thailand’s geographic advantage as its gateway.”
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