Mr. Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, TAT Deputy Governor for International Marketing – Asia and the South Pacific, delivered the following speech at the Thailand Media Briefing, ATF 2019, held on Thursday, 17 January, 2019, from 09.00-09.45 Hrs., at Quang Ninh Exhibition of the Planning and Expo Centre (QNEPEC) in Halong Bay, Vietnam.
Sawasdee khrap and good morning distinguished guests, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen.
On behalf of the Thai tourism industry, I would like to welcome you all here at the Thirty-eighth ASEAN Tourism Forum in Ha Long Bay, Quang Ninh’s most famous UNESCO Natural Wonder of Vietnam. With the theme “ASEAN: THE POWER OF ONE”, the event is designed to promote tourism to and within the ASEAN region.
Throughout this year, Thailand has an important role as the ASEAN chairman. Under the theme of “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability”, we will seek to develop an ASEAN community, which is people-centred, leaves no one behind, and looks to the future.
Thailand’s Tourism Situation
– Overall Statistics 2018
The Thai tourism industry recorded total international arrivals of 38 million, up by seven percent that generated an estimated 62 billion USD (2 trillion Baht), up by 10 percent over 2017. China headed the list with more than 10 million arrivals.
In 2019, TAT has set a growth target of six percent and 10 percent in arrival numbers and tourism revenue, respectively from the international market. Meanwhile, we expect to see an increase of seven percent for the number of arrivals and 11 percent for tourism revenue in the ASEAN market.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me to tell you briefly about the Vietnam market. Vietnam is one of Thailand’s most vibrant short-haul markets. In 2018, Thailand recorded for the first time to welcome over 1 million visitors from Vietnam. We hope to see continuity on this growth.
Thailand now has 240 weekly flights (operated by Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, Thai Vietjet, Jetstar Pacific Airlines, Nok Air, Thai AirAsia, Thai Lion Air, Vietjet Air, and Vietnam Airlines) 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. We expect to see a six percent increase in Vietnamese visitors coming to Thailand this year.
International Marketing Direction
The official government policy now is to ensure that the nation is prosperous and sustainable, and pursues development in line with the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy.
In line with the government’s policy, TAT has followed our corporate plan (2018-2021), which positions Thailand as a world-class destination in a sustainable way as well as stimulates the economy of the rural areas by prioritising 55 secondary destinations and reduce the income disparity between the urban and rural areas.
For the international market, TAT is working under three main strategies:
- Positioning Thailand as a “Preferred Destination” by offering quality products and services while maintaining a balance between the demand and supply side.
- Stimulating expenditure and expanding the mid-high income market segments; such as, by emphasising on fine-dining Michelin star restaurants (Michelin Guide Book – Bangkok, Phuket, Phang Nga).
- Expanding niche markets; such as, luxury, weddings and honeymoons, sports tourism, and health and wellness.
Thailand is now working intensively to promote its emerging tourism destinations in a way that better balances both seasonality and distribution. The goal is to achieve a more even distribution of visitors between urban and rural areas, as well in the months of travel. We also want to encourage more travel during weekdays to reduce pressure on the weekends.
However, I have to say that it is not an easy task to select a destination to promote. We are well aware of the over-tourism issues. That’s why TAT has carefully hand selected these destinations with due consideration both in terms of tourism demand as well as accessibility, adequate availability of accommodation, readiness of the local communities, and marketable opportunities; all of which are vital for promotion in the international markets.
TAT has focused on assessing the readiness of communities in emerging cities. Therefore, a city’s potential after the number of tourists and the occupancy rate has been divided into three tiers:
Tier 1: Provinces that are ready to be sold; such as, Nan, Buri Ram, Chumphon, and Trat.
Tier 2: Provinces that require intensive promotion; such as, Chiang Rai, Nakhon Phanom, and Satun.
Tier 3: Provinces that should be promoted for a day trip; such as, Phrae, Lamphun, and Kalasin.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to tell you that Khon Kaen, one of the major provinces in Northeastern Thailand recently crossed the record of visitor numbers to over five million person/trips. This achievement will provide more potential to use Khon Kaen as a hub city and to link it to promote nearby secondary cities; such as, Udon Thani, Nong Khai, and Kalasin.
From this model, we aim to promote the emerging destination with a major destination that matches to each market’s preference; such as, Chiang Mai will be promoted with Lampang and Chiang Rai while Phuket will be promoted with Satun and Trang.
As Thailand is very committed to developing a further understanding of environmental mindfulness among Thai and foreign visitors, we encourage all to join us in the development of the sustainable tourism sector. Here are a few items to mention.
Now, plastic bags and Styrofoam containers has been banned from being taken into any of Thailand’s national parks or zoos.
Also, Phuket’s public and private sectors recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) of the Phuket Sustainable Tourism Blueprint 2018 to initiate the ‘No Foam, No Plastic’ campaign with the effort to encourage local shops and people to switch entirely to paper or eco-friendly bags and drinking straws.
TAT has also launched a ‘Travel Thailand in Style, Reduce Plastic Waste’ collaboration initiative with various stakeholders in a bid to cut tourism-related waste by up to 50 percent by 2020.
With regards to recognition, Nan province was selected as the No. 1 ASEAN Clean Tourist City Standard at the ATF 2018 while Krabi was awarded the “Global Low-carbon Ecological Scenic Spot” at the 2018 Annual Session of the Global Forum on Human settlements and Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements Awards.
The “Amazing Thailand Open to the New Shades” is still being used as our communication concept throughout this year. However, we have enhanced it by offering Thai Unique Local Experiences with “The Millions of Hidden Shades” perspective to the audience.
As diversity is what makes Thailand amazing and we believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we have come up with the concept of letting visitors obtain experiences from the local people and open their minds to see the aspects of Thailand’s beauty through their own perspectives.
To give you a better understanding about our communication concept, I would like to show you this VDO. Please enjoy.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour that Thailand was voted the world’s Best Country for People by readers of Conde Nast Traveller UK in the 2018 Readers’ Travel Awards. This award is our encouragement to retain the biggest asset of the Thai people: our friendliness, generosity, and hospitality. This is another shade of Thailand we would like to communicate more in the years ahead.
ASEAN Connectivity Activities
ASEAN Together Run 2019: Starting from 18 September, 2018, to 8 August, 2019, TAT has organised the ASEAN Together Run 2019 to promote tourism with ASEAN countries under the concept of ‘Run and Travel’ through a Virtual Run, which encourages people to run anywhere in the ASEAN countries.
The run is open to all levels starting from a fun run of 5 kilometres up to 200 kilometres at an ultra-level. The highlight is the medal designed with the concept “The One”. The landmark of each ASEAN country will be presented in 5 separate pieces, which can be assembled altogether to complete one medal. Registration is open today at www.aseantogetherrun.com, and runners can accumulate their distances until ASEAN Day on 8 August 8 2019.
ASEAN Pop Culture: Experience the lifestyle of ASEAN in the vibe of popular culture. As such, we have linked the charms of the ASEAN countries with gastronomy, fashion, art, literature, music, and so on.
The activities include taking Thai artists to visit neighbouring countries and doing co-creation art activities with artists in Myanmar, and Cambodia with the concept ASEAN Culture “The Same Oneness”. In addition, they will travel to Thailand’s secondary cities; such as, Sukhothai, Chiang Rai and Trat to create their art activities as well. The activities are set to be held between November 2018 – August 2019.
Experience Thailand and More Edition II: The second edition of the pocketbook “Experience Thailand and More” is to enhance this ASEAN Connectivity initiative with new destination combinations. This latest edition will promote ASEAN as a single destination with Thailand as the region’s primary aviation and tourism hub, so TAT will launch “Experience Thailand and More Edition II”. The routes include ‘Discovering Thai and Khmer Life at the Grassroots’ (Thailand – Cambodia) and ‘Following a Route of Spirituality and Cultures’ (Thailand – Myanmar).
The ‘Experience Thailand and More Edition II’ recommended travel routes that connect cities in ASEAN is also in line with TAT’s latest marketing concept of ‘Open to the New Shades’, which highlights how visitors can discover new perspectives in existing Thai attractions, or indulge in experiences in new tourist attractions in the Kingdom and beyond.
Shopping Opportunities: As Thailand has been well-known as a shopping paradise, I would like to recommend you a few of our latest trendy shopping developments:
ICON Siam: This comprises two shopping complexes: the ICONSIAM main wing and ICONLUXE luxury wing, and two residential condominium buildings located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, which is now open to welcome all visitors.
King Power Mahanakhon: is Thailand’s new landmark, located in the heart of Bangkok. It is not only a luxury residence, but also the home of King Power’s retail and duty-free shops along with an observation deck boasting the city’s most epic views at 314 metres at the King Power Mahanakhon SkyWalk.
Central Village is another project scheduled to open at the end of this year. The new complex will be located near Suvarnabhumi Airport with more than 200 luxury outlet malls and a 200-room hotel.
Apart from the entertainment side, I would like to update you a bit more regarding the facilitated products of Thailand.
Accessibility: Rail transport in Thailand is also developing with plans to operate a high-speed railway to the Eastern provinces that will connect the three international airports of Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya, and another line to Hua Hin in the southern part to facilitate business and tourism in the area.
A new joint venture agreement has been signed between Thai Airways International and Airbus to establish a maintenance, repair and overhaul facility at the U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport. This will create one of the most modern and extensive services in the Asia-Pacific region bringing significant economic benefits for the aviation business in the country.
E–visa: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will launch an online E-visa application service on 15 February, 2019, starting first with the Chinese market and then expanding it in phases to other countries worldwide within three years. Beijing will be the first Chinese city where the service will be available followed by other Chinese cities. Other countries to follow will be the United Kingdom on 1 March and France on 1 April. The online visa will automate and speed up the visa application process globally.
The Amazing Thailand Marathon Bangkok 2019 presented by TOYOTA will be held on 3 February, 2019. This unforgettable marathon with Thai cultural food for runners at the finish line will be taking place in one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bangkok, the Democracy Monument near the world famous night market street of Khao San Road.
The annual World Wai Kru Muay Thai ceremony has become a firm fixture on the calendars of Muay Thai fans all over the world, and also takes place to celebrate Nai Khanom Tom Day. This year is the event’s fifteenth edition, which is scheduled to take place on 16-17 March, 2019, in Ayutthaya province.
2019 PTT Thailand Grand Prix, the world’s number one motorcycle road-racing championship watched by more than 800 million people and broadcast live to more than 200 countries around the world. In 2019, the racing is scheduled to be held on 4-6 October, 2019, at the Chang International Circuit in Buri Ram.
As I mentioned earlier, Thailand expects to be a “Preferred Tourist Destination”. Our strengths and competitive advantages will continue to serve us in good stead. We look forward to working with you for mutual benefit in promoting Thailand to your guests and clients.
Finally, I thank all of you for joining us here and for your ongoing support. No matter how much effort we put into promoting Amazing Thailand, we cannot succeed without you.
Thank you and sawasdee khrap.