Tourism officials tout road shows, expect 5% visitor growth in 2016

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Local tourism officials say overseas efforts to drive more visitors to Pattaya have paid off and they expect the city to top 10 million tourists this year.

Speaking to the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association Feb. 11 at the Grand Sole Hotel, Tourism Authority of Thailand Pattaya office Director Suladda Sarutilavan said a recent travel show in India, other table-top road shows and domestic tourism events all have been successful in opening new markets overseas and at home.

TAT is now preparing a domestic-tourism promotion called “Traveling in Thai style is wonderful and unique”. It is aimed at bringing more Thais to the Eastern Seaboard by pitching areas like Koh Sichang and Toey Ngam Beach in Sattahip to domestic travelers, particularly women who enjoy the beach, spas, shopping and golf.

Tourism Authority of Thailand Pattaya office Director Suladda Sarutilavan.

As for international tourists, both Suladda and Thanet Supornsahatrangsi, chairman of the Tourism Council of Thailand, complained that Chinese tourists may have offset the loss of Russian visitors in term of raw numbers, but they spent far less due to them traveling in low- or no-cost tours that don’t contribute to the Pattaya economy.

Suladda said her office’s goal in 2016 is to mobilize five new TAT offices in China to discourage such tours or have mainland travelers use only reputable agents. At the same time, the local offices will create incentives for Chinese tourists to travel on their own and not in groups, which will lead to more tourism revenue for Pattaya.

Thanet, meanwhile, told his fellow business owners that they need to look more at online marketing, particularly through social media and on mobile platforms, to increase business in 2016.

Suladda said she expects Pattaya to add 5 percent to 9.8 million tourists in 2016, pushing the city well above 10 million.