Bangkok, 29 November, 2018 – More than 200 representatives from 106 companies of the Thai tourism private sector attended a special focus group session organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) recently to share trends and insights on the rapidly growing markets of India, Vietnam and the Islamic world.
The session at the Lancaster Hotel was opened by Mr. Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, Deputy Governor for International Marketing – Asia and South Pacific market, who noted the importance of these key source markets in diversifying Thailand’s visitor arrivals and meeting the targets in terms of both growth and expenditure.
Three private sector experts invited to share their insights were Mr. Preecha Champi, General Manager, Destination Siam Group (Indian market), Mr. Sanya Saengboon, General Manager, Al Meroz Bangkok (the Muslim market, especially from Indonesia and Malaysia) and Mr. Anantachai Wannaphan, Deputy Marketing Manager, Vietjet Air (Vietnamese market).
These markets were chosen for the session because they are all within three to four hours flying time of Thailand, have large middle-class populations with strong purchasing power, and different seasonality patterns.
Mr. Chattan said, “Although there are many similarities in terms of market size and potential, they are all different in terms of customer requirements, demographics and strategies. Hence, we felt it would be useful to organise a forum to help many of the Thai hoteliers and tour operators to better understand both the opportunities and challenges.”
He thanked the private sector speakers for contributing their time and expertise. After the opening remarks, the participants were divided into groups to attend more detailed clinics with the TAT representatives responsible for each of these source markets.
Three of the target markets, (Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam) are ASEAN countries, which will be in line with the concept of promoting intra-ASEAN travel. The Indian market is also growing significantly thanks to increasing airline links with India’s secondary cities.
In January – October 2018, visitors from India to Thailand totalled 1.28 million (+11.23%), Indonesia 524,735 (+10.94%), Malaysia 3.17 million (+12.73%), and Vietnam 881,551 (+9.46%).
For the Indian market, Mr. Isara Sathapanaset, Director of the TAT New Delhi Office and Ms. Cholada Siddhivarn, Director of the TAT Mumbai Office said that the sheer geographical, ethnic and cultural diversity of India itself was a huge opportunity because of the numerous holidays celebrated by each of the different states and religious groups. They noted that the country also had 600 million young people with many of them having both the money and desire to travel.
From Indonesia, Mrs. Busakorn Prommanot, Director of the TAT Jakarta Office, said that most noticeable was the significant 35% increase in the number of Indonesian female travellers to Thailand and the important role played by women in choice of destination. She noted that the gender ratio of Indonesian visitors had changed from 45:55 female:male in 2013 to 57:43 in 2016.
From Malaysia, Mr. Ahman Mudadam, Director of the TAT Kuala Lumpur Office noted that as 61% of the population was Muslim, it is important to cater to their travellers’ needs for halal food, products and services. TAT has produced a special brochure entitled “Salam Routes through Thailand”, which features suggested itineraries all around the country and identifies all the various places where Muslim travellers can meet their religious requirements.
From Vietnam, Ms Napasorn Kakai, Director of the TAT Ho Chi Minh Office, said Thailand now has 210 weekly flights linking key cities; such as, Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Noi, Hai Phong, Phu Quoc, Da Nang and Dalat to Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai. It is projected that the total number of visitors from Vietnam to Thailand will cross one million in 2018.
In Vietnam, TAT is starting to penetrate the upper-income market by emphasising on fine-dining at Michelin Star restaurants, health and wellness, family attractions and the MICE sector, which is growing as a result of increased foreign investment in Vietnam. It is also seeking to boost Vietnamese travel to secondary destinations.