Malaysia ramps up effort to draw in Thai tourists fed up with politics at home

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BANGKOK, 15 January 2014  Malaysia and Singapore have been trying to ramp up the number of tourists from Thailand, taking advantage of the political turmoil in the Thai capital to draw in Thais fed-up with domestic issues, says the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA). 

According to Sutthiphong, Phuenphiphop, president of the TTAA, Malaysia and Singapore have been heavily promoting their countries’ tourism and making efforts to persuade international visitors to switch their travel destinations from Thailand to Malaysian and Singapore instead. As for Thai tourists, Mr. Sutthiphong said the ‘Visit Malaysia’ campaign has clearly been adjusted to target Thai tourists this year, with Malaysia’s tourism promotion agency increasing its budget by 50% for Thai travel firms conducting public relations campaigns for tourists to visit Malaysia. Sales promotion schemes such as upgraded hotel rooms have also been also implemented in an effort to draw in at least 1.5 million Thai visitors to Malaysia this year, up from the 1.2 million in 2013.

Malaysia has clearly been trying to penetrate the Thai market through tour companies, said Sutthiphong, adding that he believed that by mid-year, Malaysia would come up with campaigns focusing on the group of tourists who travel on their own without purchasing tour packages.

In the meantime, Singapore has placed more emphasis on the Meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions (MICE) market than regular tourists.

The TTAA president noted, however, that the prolonged rallies have quelled Thai people’s mood for foreign travel and the number of outbound Thai tourists during the Chinese New Year’s period, expected to drop by 20%, will be analyzed by his association and then used as a basis for further evaluation.