Pattaya tourism officials are working overtime to offset the impact from the government’s crackdown on “zero-baht” tours that caused arrivals of Chinese visitors to plummet.
Surawat Kornworamart, vice president of the Thai Hotel Business Association, met with government, hotel and business leaders Nov. 23 at the Green Park to discuss measures being taken to offset the drop in mainland tourists.
Suladda Sarutilavan, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Pattaya office, said the agency’s new focus has been on business-to-business (B2B) tourism, with TAT expending considerable time and money matching up Thai and Chinese tour companies, rather than marketing to travelers directly.
She said the government also has contacted their counterparts in Russia and South Korea to boost tourism while stressing individual tourism, rather than tour groups.
The steps became necessary after authorities in September raided OA Transport Co. and seized its 2,150 tour buses and confiscated 4.7 billion baht in assets.
The investigation was widened to include Fuan Travel, Royal Gems International Co., Thai Herb Co., Bangkok Handicraft Centre Co., Royal Paradise Co. and Baan Kanom Thongthip Co., all of whom are accused of creating low-quality tours that allowed Chinese visitors to arrive in Thailand for little or no money down, but then tricked the tourists into shopping at overpriced stores and paying extra fees for attractions.
TAT’s new mantra is “quality, not quantity”, Suladda said, even while admitting the industry has taken a short-term hit.
TAT said earlier it will miss its target of 10 million Chinese tourists this year and, on Nov. 26, the director of Don Muang International Airport said Chinese arrivals there had dropped by half since October.
Suladda said TAT has aggressively responded by marketing to travel companies in China at four trade shows during November alone in China and Thailand.
TAT also organized an opportunity to lead tour companies from Bangkok to have business talks with entrepreneurs in Pattaya to survey new attractions and services.
Two more roadshows are planned for the first half of December in China, she added.
TAT now expects 9.1 million Chinese tourists arriving in Thailand in 2016 with expected revenue of 459. 7 billion baht in revenue created.