Mr. Tanes Petsuwan
Deputy Governor of Marketing Communications
Tourism Authority of Thailand
at the Amazing Thailand Networking Lunch, WTM 2019
on Monday, 4 November, 2019, 11.30 – 13.30 Hrs.
South Gallery 27 & 28, Excel Exhibition Centre
London, United Kingdom
Sawasdee khrap, good afternoon, distinguished guests, friends and colleagues. It is always a pleasure to be back in London at the World Travel Market again. I am truly glad to see this leading travel industry event going from strength to strength and to reconnect with our supporters, well-wishers and partners.
Thailand is proud to participate in the World Travel Mart for the thirty-ninth consecutive year. This year, our Thai pavilion bears the theme of New Shade of Sustainability, and we have a total of 42 exhibitors, of these, 25 are first-timers. The Thai pavilion has been designed in line with the concept of “Open to the New Shades of Thailand” under the campaign “Amazing Thailand”.
It highlights many creative and innovative products and services of high-potential tourist attractions in the emerging cities of Thailand that are well suited to the travel behaviour and preferences of European visitors, especially repeat visitors seeking to learn more about the ways of life in the local communities. Indeed, the entire pavilion has a very strong environmental focus. It is made entirely of recyclable and non-polluting materials. All the wood is from renewable sources. All the waste generated in the pavilion is deposited in separate disposal bins.
Let me begin with a few words about Thailand’s tourism situation. In 2018, we welcomed 38 million international tourist arrivals, up by 7 per cent, generating an estimated 43 billion Pounds in tourism revenue, an increase of 7 percent over 2017. So far this year from January to September, we have recorded 29.4 million visitors, up 3.51 per cent over the same period of 2018.
For 2019, we are forecasting 39.8 million foreign tourists generating an estimated 46.5 billion Pounds in tourism revenue.
In 2018, Thailand welcomed 6 million European visitors generating an estimated 11 billion Pounds in tourism income. From January to September 2019, a total of 4.6 million arrivals were from Europe.
The United Kingdom is now Thailand’s second largest market out of Europe. In 2018, Thailand welcomed more than 954,000 arrivals from the UK, generating 1.6 billion Pounds. From January to September 2019, UK visitors to Thailand totalled nearly 720,000 generating an estimated 1.2 billion Pounds in income.
We are projecting 950,000 visitor arrivals and earnings of 1.7 billion Pounds from the UK market for all of 2019.
We consider this number satisfactory, as through this year we have been working on many challenging factors; such as, the US-China trade war, the concern about Brexit, and definitely the Thai Baht appreciation. Decision-making is no longer as easy as it used to be.
We have to thank our friends from the UK and Ireland who have always been our good supporter. I hope that this function will be an opportunity for you to share your best solutions for your business. And, the TAT London Office will be your focal point to make it through to your business.
Distinguished guests, 2020 will be a very important year for Thailand, as we will mark the sixtieth anniversary of the official establishment of the Thai tourism industry. In the first year, in 1960, we received a little over 80,000 international arrivals which are minute when compared to the number we received last year. So, TAT will be using this historic milestone of the country’s tourism industry as an opportunity to take a look back as well as a look ahead. We see a clear need to refresh our value proposition and expand our range of product offerings. As we can see from the thousands of exhibitors at the WTM, the competition is becoming more intense.
As such, we will have key messages highlighting the importance of responsible tourism and being good hosts under the theme of “Next steps towards a sustainable Thailand”.
In our approach, sustainable means to use tourism as a tool to reduce the inequalities and disparities. This is usually framed within the context of boosting earnings from tourism. However, it is more important to be socially responsible and focus on enhancing earnings. Sustainability itself is a very sensitive process and must include the social context as well as the fragility of the environment. Thus, it is equally important to focus on quality as in the quality of our work, and attracting quality clients. Visitors who come to Thailand all come to enjoy our nature, culture, cuisine and all the wonderful aspects of what we call “Thainess”.
Apart from that, to celebrate the occasion of 60 years of the Thai tourism industry, TAT’s overseas offices will organise an “Amazing Thailand Week” in the last week of May. This is a tactical campaign that TAT will cooperate with strategic partners; such as, airlines, tour operators, Thai restaurants, and all suppliers in Thailand to raise awareness of the Amazing Thailand brand. Many activities will be created together with strategic partners in every overseas region, and we expect this campaign will keep our brand in tourists’ mind.
For our UK and Ireland friends, please contact the TAT London Office for further information.
In the European markets, TAT will work with five go strategies.
– Go high means we will focus on specific quality markets and middle-upper income groups. For the UK market, we have launched a new luxury brand, ‘Distinctly Thai’ which sets out Thailand’s world-class credentials in natural and cultural heritage, food, health and wellness and hospitality.
– For the Go for New Customer, we will seek first-time visitors in new markets and in the long-standing source markets. In the UK, we will continue to target major cities outside London and the South East; such as, Cardiff, Sheffield, Leeds, and of course we will never forget Dublin where we see the best potential for incremental growth.
– Go for Low season will attempt to balance out the seasonality factor and generate more demand in the “Green Season”. ‘The UK is one of the most successful source markets for delivering visitors to Thailand all-year round. Targetting the off-peak season travel for May, June, September and October, the TAT London Office is using a highly tactical, digital advertising approach ‘Book Now, Travel, Now’, which also reflects the significant shift to last minute bookings. From September this year, this campaign delivered an impressive 26 million impressions.
Go Local is an effort to build a strong image of Thailand in order to maintain its competitive advantages. Other products will also be developed and marketed; such as, homestays, home lodges, walking streets and local cuisine. There are many emerging destinations ready to be promoted; such as, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, Kalasin, Buri Ram, Phatthalung, Ranong and Prachuap Khriri Khan.
Go Digital will be deployed to reach the customers as per the required segment and geographical location. We will use different kinds of digital platforms as well as celebrity marketing to connect with our tourists. Launched in July of this year, TAT’s new online magazine, fanclubthailand.co.uk attracted over 20,500 page views in the first 4 months. This magazine aims to inform and inspire the UK visitor to explore more of Thailand and the variety of experience from luxury to local, from cultural to simple. All this rich content provides a strong platform to generate quality sales.
On the destination management side, if you have travelled to Bangkok lately, you would have seen many construction sites that might cause some inconvenience, which I have to apologise for that. The government is paying more attention to expanding the city’s transportation infrastructure; such as, the BTS Skytrain and MRT subway systems to cover the area of Bangkok and the suburbs. The undergoing construction of the 8 MRT line projects will be gradually opened more or less year by year and finally completed in 2025.
Connectivity is also set to be enhanced further by air, land, and sea. The Bang Pa-In – Nakhon Ratchasima Intercity Motorway or M6 is scheduled to operate in 2021. This will provide greater facilitation for both the Thais and tourists who want to travel to the Northeast.
Recently, the signing ceremony programme of Public-Private Partnership Agreement of the High-speed Rail Linking Three Airports Project was set and presided over by the Prime Minister.
The Project will enhance travel around the country and provide more convenient links. These include connecting three airports (Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and U-Tapao) that will enhance the Eastern Economic Corridor, as well as Bangkok to Padang Besar at the Thai-Malay border, north to Chiang Mai, and to Nong Khai in the Northeast.
The second phase of the extension for Suvarnabhumi Airport will be completed in mid-2020. It will be able to accommodate 60 million passengers per year. Besides, there will be an automated people mover system to transport passengers between the terminals within 2 minutes.
Ladies and gentlemen,
For the rest of 2019 and onto 2020, we have some interesting events coming up. The announcement of the Michelin Guide Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Phang Nga will be held on 12 November, and this is going to be the first Michelin Star Revelation to be ZERO food waste to landfill. For your next trip to Thailand, don’t forget to try those restaurants in the list.
For sports events, as you may know sports tourism is one of our sports strategy to be in line with the minister’s policy.
– The Princess’s Cup Thailand 2019 will take place at the Royal Stable Unit and the Royal Horse Guard in Bangkok, from 18-24 November, 2019.
– Amazing Thailand Bangkok Marathon 2020 will be held on 2 February, 2020. Last year we had 25,000 runners including 5000 around the world participated in this event.
– The Chang Arena and Chang International Circuit will again welcome all racers and spectators worldwide in the PTT Thailand Grand Prix 2020 in Buri Ram on 22 March, after its great success in 2018 and 2019.
Sixty years of experience has taught us a lot. We have been through many ups and downs and always emerged stronger, thanks to all our friends, supporters and well-wishers; such as, yourselves. The next 60 years will definitely pose a totally new set of challenges, but we are confident of being able to deal with them in the spirit of friendship and cooperation.
Thank you all for sparing your valuable time. The people of Thailand look forward to your continued support in the years ahead.