Sawasdee khrap and good afternoon,
Members of the media,
Ladies and gentlemen,
And greetings to all journalists covering the ASEAN Tourism Forum in Singapore.
Thank you all for being with us today. It is always a pleasure to see such a large turnout of friends and supporters here. This year is a very special year as it is the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of ASEAN and the auspicious third cycle or thirty-sixth anniversary of the ASEAN Tourism Forum since its inauguration in 1981.
Before I update you with a roundup of the Thai tourism situation of what we are going to offer to visitors this year, I would like to firstly extend my warm thanks and gratitude to the people, government and travel industry of Singapore for their warm hospitality and excellent arrangements.
- Thai Tourism Situation
In 2016, the Thai tourism industry hit the record breaking performance in our history both in terms of revenue and number of tourist arrivals. According to the preliminary figures, Thailand received tourism revenue around 1.65 trillion Baht or around 46 billion US dollars with growth of 13 percent, and the total number of international visitor arrivals of 32.6 million, which was an increase of 9 percent over 2015. Thailand’s top 5 destinations for international visitors in the year 2016 were Bangkok, Phuket, Chon Buri, Chiang Mai and Surat Thani. International visitors had an average length of stay of roughly 4 days per person per visit, and their average daily expenditure was 4,200 Baht (115 USD) per person.
In 2017, we hope to reach our goal with the target of 1.81 trillion Baht (50 billion USD) up 10 percent in international tourism receipts and 34.5 million overseas travelers, plus 6 percent over 2016
* 1USD = 36 Baht
What we are offering in the year 2017
Our plans for 2017 are designed to shift the structure and direction of the national tourism industry towards a new value-based offer in order to position Thailand as a ‘Preferred Destination.’ In order to achieve this, we have developed the Tourism 4.0 in line with a national strategy ‘Thailand 4.0’. The Tourism 4.0 incorporates two key concepts including “Strength from Within’ and ‘Connect to the World’, as a strategy to drive both domestic and international tourism.
This strategy means that the Thai tourism industry will be forging closer linkages with other sectors of the Thai economy and society; such as, culture, education, agriculture, transportation, telecommunications and others. The Thai tourism industry has proved itself over the last few decades to be an economic bedrock for the country making the most valuable contribution for the country. We now need to preserve that trend in the years ahead.
- Unique Thai Local Experiences
We are aware that in today’s travel industry, more and more people are looking for real and authentic stories. That is why we are going to offer “Unique Thai Local Experiences” to the world. We will deliver an innovative and cultural mix to tourists while inviting them to discover their Amazing Stories in Amazing Thailand. I am going to show you an idea what it will be like to enjoy a local experience in Thailand. As it has been said, “It’s better to experience something once than to see it a thousand times.”
- A thousand stories begin with the local experience.
In addition to what I mentioned earlier, there is no shortage of local experiences for visitors to enjoy in Thailand. Here is just a quick sample:
Tasting local Thai food: Thai food is about variety. There are numerous types of dishes to enjoy all across the country. Whether it be street food or royal cuisine, fusion dishes or a typical family meal, snacks or desserts, each unique dish has its own stories to tell. The easiest way to get to know Thai gastronomic culture is to eat Thai food the way the locals do and it is even better to learn to cook like the Thais do; such as, in Bangkok, riding on a Tuk Tuk food tour, walk around China town at night to find secret food, riding on a local truck in Chiang Mai on a night food tour, or stepping on the Old Town Phuket and Peranakan Food Trail. No matter what type of food person you are, Thailand always lets you have a good appetite.
Visiting the Villages: There is no better way to witness and experience the local way of life than visiting a village community that affords a unique opportunity to observe and learn their way of life while enjoying beautiful scenery.
Visitor can enjoy activities featured in the list of Unique Thai Local Experiences including a day or overnight stay to experience community-based tourism at Ban Rai Kong Khing (บ้านไร่กองขิง) in Chiang Mai, join an indigo-dyed cloth workshop at Khram Sakon (ครามสกล) in Sakon Nakhon, go fishing by walking barefoot in the mud, catch shellfish with their toes at the Ban Nam Chiao (บ้านน้ำเชี่ยว) ecotourism community in Trat, build a Hua Tong (หัวโทง) boat, and paint Batik at the Ko Klang community, Krabi province or live like a fisherman for one day while having fun and gaining first-hand knowledge out there on Ko Yao Noi, Phang Nga province.
Shopping like a local: Shopping in Thailand is always exciting. Instead of shopping at dozens of department stores, shopping complexes and retailers in Bangkok and all the popular tourist cities, visitors can try shopping at the community market; such as, the flower market or Pak Khlong Talat (ปากคลองตลาด), Chatuchak (จตุจักร) Weekend Market and other community markets. A floating market is another unique experience to try; such as, the Amphawa Floating market and Tha Kha (ท่าคา) Floating Market, both located in Samut Songkhram. A visit to one of these markets will take you back in time to when the riverside was still full of hustle and bustle. And when the sun goes down, some roads in several tourist destinations are closed to traffic and become walking streets; such as, Lat Yai (หลาดใหญ่) Walking Street in Phuket, Bo Phut (บ่อผุด) Walking Street in Ko Samui, Khao San (ข้าวสาร) Road in Bangkok, Tha Phae (ท่าแพ) Walking Street in Chiang Mai, and Hua Hin Night Market.
These local activities can be added to any regular tour package and will create new and unique quality products for travel agents to offer to their customers. Impressive experiences in Thailand will then turn them into loyal customers; such as, combine a regular programme of a Grand Palace tour with tasting Thai food or shopping at a local community market nearby.
Thailand for ASEAN
As a founding member of ASEAN, Thailand has long adopted a policy to promote tourism in the region, with a special focus on encouraging the region as a Single Destination for world travellers. Our geographical location at the heart of ASEAN has a unique geographic advantage as a bridgehead between the countries of southern ASEAN and northern ASEAN. We are the only country to share land borders with four ASEAN countries (Malaysia, Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Myanmar).
One of the most important connectivities in the ASEAN region will be the Asian Highway to facilitate the ASEAN connectivity; such as, the R3A, East-West Corridor, and R12 routes. Low-cost airlines, which have opened up the floodgates of intra and inter-ASEAN regional travel, have got unlimited opportunities to fly to many more airports in the secondary cities of ASEAN. These will connect many more new destinations and source markets as well as
help boost the regional market.
This year as we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of its founding, this will present a unique opportunity to showcase our unity and take specific steps to make our community strengthen even more. We firmly believe that the entire region has supported the greatest diversity of culture, nature and heritage with some of the finest tourism products and attractions, all backed by great value for money.
Together, we have numerous joint PR and marketing activities with our ASEAN colleagues such as:
– Official launch of the Visit ASEAN @ 50 campaign.
– ASEAN Media Fam Trip.
– Preparation of mini-sites; such as, www.tourismthailand.org/aec and a video on Visit ASEAN@50.
– Publicise ASEAN@50 campaigns in major events; such as, ITB Asia 2017, WTM 2017, SATTE 2017, and so on.
– Organise a year-long social media campaign, ‘ASEAN Photo Walk’, by using social media influencers in ASEAN countries to stimulate awareness and promote tourism in ASEAN.
- Thailand to welcome you at the ATF 2018 in Chiang Mai
Finally, friends of the media, Thailand is proud to be hosting the next ASEAN Tourism Forum 2018 in our northern capital city of Chiang Mai during 22-26 January, 2018. This will be our sixth ATF since hosting it first in 1985. It will be the first time we will be hosting it in the city often known as the ‘Rose of the North’ under the theme ASEAN – Sustainable connectivity, Boundless Prosperity.
Chiang Mai is the economic, communications, cultural and tourism centre of Northern Thailand. In recent years, it has undergone considerable economic development but still retains its historic heritage. It is also becoming increasingly well-known as a centre of traditional Thai massage, meditation, spas, health and wellness. The accommodation sector is vastly improved with new properties ranging from specialist boutique hotels to health and wellness retreats to deluxe resorts.
The city is well-known for a diversity of cultural and natural attractions, ethnic cultures, and unique Lanna-style traditions in celebrating many Thai festivals.
Chiang Mai is also perfect for small and medium sized conventions and exhibitions, especially those focussing on themes relevant to the Mekong region. It is also a wonderful place to explore alternative development themes; such as, the Royal Projects.
Chiang Mai is well connected by direct flights from many parts of Asia including China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and more. In the future, we hope there will be direct flights from Jakarta and Manila, too
I would like to end by thanking all of you for joining us here today and for your ongoing support. I am sure this briefing has given you something to write about. We are looking forward to welcoming you in Thailand. Last but not least, for anyone who still has a question about when is the best time to go to Thailand, here is the answer…
Thank you and sawasdee khrap
Notes to the Editor: If you would like to receive a copy of the power point presentation of this speech as well as a copy of the ‘Unique Thai Local Experiences’ VDO , please submit your request via this form.