Sawasdee kha and good afternoon,
Members of the media,
Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Thai tourism industry, it is a great pleasure and privilege for me to welcome you all here. A warm “Thank You” to all the distinguished media members for your support and for sparing your valuable time to attend 12th Thailand Travel Mart 2013 Plus Amazing Gateway to the Greater Mekong Subregion, the Kingdom’s largest business-to-business travel trade fair.
In 2012, Thailand achieved another record-breaking performance, crossing the 22 million mark for the first time.
As you can see on the slide,
Visitors from East Asia and ASEAN totalled 12.5 million (+21.06%), Europe 5.6 million (+10.77%), the Americas 1.08 million (+13.74%), South Asia 1.3 million (+11.12%), Oceania 1.04 million (+12.13%), Middle East 605,000 (+0.72%) and Africa 155,000 (+12.8%).
Two source markets, China and Malaysia, are now generating more than two million annual arrivals each. And four source markets – Japan, Russia, South Korea, and India – are generating more than one million arrivals each.
In 2012, the three rapid growth markets were China, Russia and, India. Their growth rates were in double digits. Our marketing and PR efforts in those markets augmented already favorable conditions for outbound travel.
Additionally, we penetrated new markets to diversify our customer base. Last year, we successfully concluded sales missions to markets with strong growth potential, such as Qatar and Kuwait in Asia, Latin America (Brazil and South Africa), Poland and the Czech Republic in Europe.
The year 2013 is shaping up to be another very good year for Thai tourism.
In January-April 2013, Thailand’s visitor arrivals surged to a record total of 8,841,730, up by 19.04% over the same period of 2012, according to figures published by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.
Visitors from East Asia and ASEAN totaled 4.82 million (+28.72%), Europe 2.62 million (+11.89%), the Americas 422,000 (+6.75%), South Asia 410,000 (+9.98%), and Africa 38,000 (+6.70%). Only two regions, Middle East declined -2.20% to 180,000 and Oceania 324,000 (-1.14%).
China’s total of 1.53 million visitor arrivals or (+92.82%) made it the first time that any country had crossed the one million mark in the short span of four months.
The growth was mainly due to the Lunar New Year in February 2013, which led to a spike in long-holiday travel to Thailand. Also, we can claim that the success of the “Lost in Thailand” movie encouraged more Chinese tourists to visit Thailand in record numbers.
Numbers are great, but even more satisfying are the several awards Thailand has been bestowed by our many fans around the world.
Recently, the MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities ranked Bangkok as 2013’s top destination city by international visitor arrivals, as it surpassed London by the slimmest of margins. This is the first time an Asian city is in the top rank since the Index was launched in 2010.
Furthermore, Bangkok is ranked 13th from the “Top 25 Travellers’ Choice World Destinations 2013” and Number One in Asia by TripAdvisor, while Chiang Mai is ranked 24th in the world and 6th in Asia.
In 2013, TAT is confident that if the global, regional and local situation remains stable, Thailand will receive 24.14 million arrivals, generating a projected tourism income of 1.1 trillion Baht or 37.05 Billion USD.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The core theme of the 2013 TAT Action Plan is “Higher Revenue through Thainess.”
For a few years now, TAT has been a proponent of employing the concept of Modern Marketing in every facet of our operations. The aim is to actively engage with our customers through the extensive use of online marketing tools and social media platforms.
In fact, to give a fun and catchy name to our plan, we are calling it our DISCO Plan. DISCO comprises five components:
D is for Digital Marketing
I is for Image Building
S is for Sustainability
C is for Crystallization and Crisis Communication
O is for Organization Managemen
TAT understands the importance of not only having a highly visible presence in the online world, but also in producing and delivering content that is stimulating to our target markets wherever they are.
One example of our online footprint in the digital domain is The Little Big Project is a global digital marketing Volunteer Tourism competition funded by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to inspire worldwide travelers to take a Volunteer vacation in Thailand. The project starts from March – July 2013. This will give contestants an opportunity to do something meaningful while on holiday. Here is a TV ad of the project:
Prior to my presentation, we showed you our new TV ad “A Warm Welcome is All Around.”
That ad represents the current message we are trying to get across – that a holiday in Thailand is a lot of fun. In implementing our global media campaign, we focus on the experience our visitors can look forward to receiving when in Thailand.
On the screen, you will see some of the ads we are using.
However, image building is not confined only to colorful ads, but also involves in essence taking Thainess to the world at every high-profile opportunity.
In this regard, we go to great lengths to maintain consistency when we work with celebrities to promote Thailand, when we have exposure at major international events like the recently concluded Monaco Grand Prix, the Paestum Balloon Festival in Italy,
The Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan, and BNP Paribas Tennis Open at Indian Wells in the United States, as well as leveraging the success of movies and TV programs filmed here like Lost in Thailand and The Bachelor in the United States.
Sustainable tourism is the backbone of conducting the tourism business now and in the future. With rapid growth comes a number of problems that must be addressed. As a tourism marketing agency, we strive to strike a balance between promotion and sustainability.
Major projects for us in this area include pushing
– The 7 Greens Concept to encourage Thailand’s tourism industry to take responsibility in creating environmentally friendly tourism practices and products.
– Our 50 Great Escapes book to highlight fascinating green tourism routes and activities in Thailand.
CRYSTALLIZATION & CRISIS COMMUNICATION
When we talk about crystallization in TAT, we mean that before we take any marketing decision, we must have clear and concise market information and statistics at our disposal. We receive and monitor them through our domestic and overseas offices, and rely on our extensive network with travel trade professionals globally.
This network with our allies in the public and private sectors such as Tourism Council, ATTA, THA, TCEB, TICA, Thai Airways International and other airlines as well as Team Thailand in overseas diplomatic missions help us to communicate during crises and recover faster than without one.
This is the heart of the implementation process. All marketing plans need to be professionally executed and evaluated. The TAT will continue to upgrade the delivery skills of its staff in order to ensure operational and management efficiency and meeting of the Key Performance Indicators. We follow the path as set in our Corporate Plan as well as work according to the State Enterprise Performance Appraisal or SEPA guidelines.
As most of you are aware, the Royal Thai Government has entrusted TAT with task of helping the country to achieve a tourism revenue target of 2 trillion baht or 65 billion US dollars in 2015. We feel that to do this successfully we must adjust our strategy to pursue the high-yield segments more.
TAT is implementing value-centric projects to push products that Thailand is ready to offer to customers. These projects are multi-dimensional and involve emotional aspects that engage with visitors by way of co-creation and creative marketing activities.
Therefore, for a few years now, we have been concentrating on 4 niche markets that Thailand already has a good supply of and that there is much demand for them in the travel community. They are Golf, Health and Wellness, Wedding and Honeymoon, and Green Tourism.
Golfers come from all around the world, especially places such as Japan and South Korea, to play and attend international tournaments at one of over 200 courses in the country. We also hold an annual golf travel mart to provide more networking opportunities. Not only are the courses immaculately designed, but the cost of playing in Thailand is generally much lower than that of many countries.
Recently, Thailand has hosted the 2nd Asia Golf Tourism Convention (AGTC) which took place in Pattaya, arranged by International Association Golf Tour Operator (IAGTO). More than 150 golf tour operators, all selling Asia-Pacific golf destinations attended the event.
Health and Wellness
With an encouraging growth in this market, Thailand’s income from medical tourism stands at 121 billion Baht (4 Billion USD), and the health and wellness sector has generated an income of 140 billion Baht (4.66 Billion USD).
One of the core strengths of Thailand’s health and wellness is the professional expertise in both the preventive and curative. Visitors can learn extensively about meditation and all kinds of natural therapy. Recently, Thailand won the “Best Spa Destination (Asia)” voted by readers of asiaSpa India.
Wedding and Honeymoon:
The wedding and honeymoon segment is absolutely huge for us and it is growing every year.
In October last year, we invited more than 160 Chinese couples to hold a mass wedding ceremony in Thailand. This ceremony received wide coverage in the Chinese media and stimulated further interest in the Chinese market about getting married in Thailand
The Swedish travel agency Resia conducted a survey in 2012 and found that Thailand was No. 1 as the Top Destination for Swedish Dream Wedding.
There has been a recent explosion of many new boutique-style properties, high-quality individualized wedding service and, even certain outdoor properties are getting into the action with lavish weddings, engagement and birthday parties.
As sustainability is very important for the tourism industry, the impact of global warming and climate change is making global travellers more conscious of their environmental footprint. This means we must continue to reward environmental good practices among the private sector and help destinations and companies upgrade their sustainability efforts.
I would like to ask you to check out our green tourism website www.thailandgoesgreen.net for the latest on eco-friendly travel in Thailand.
Members of the media,
The theme of Thailand Travel Mart 2013 Plus this year, “Customise Your Experience,” reflects the increasing shift of the global travel and tourism industry towards niche-market customer segments as travellers seek not just recreation but an experience or even an education.
We are proud that Thailand offers a variety of products and services that can cater to all categories of target markets, from demographics to gender, income and personal lifestyle.
On the business side, (as of 6 Jun 2013) Thailand Travel Mart 2013 Plus, has attracted 400 buyers. The lineup of buyers is a clear reflection of changing time.
Top ten major buyer nationalities are UK (31), India (24), Thailand (23), Australia (20), Russia (14), Canada (12), China (11), South Korea (10), New Zealand (10) and USA (9)
There are also more buyers from potential markets attending than in last year’s TTM, such as Argentina (3), Brazil (3), Mexico (2) from the Americas, as well as from Algeria (2), Belarus (5), and Latvia (1).
Amongst the sellers, of the 395 companies and organisations represented, 309 or 78% are repeat sellers while 86 or 22% are new participants.
At this year’s TTM, we are receiving increased participation from sellers in Thailand’s secondary destinations, such as Lampang, Lamphun and Sukhothai, substantially expanding the event’s product offerings.
We have all five national tourism offices of the GMS region – Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam, as well as Yunnan province in the People’s Republic of China, promoting their destinations, as well as 20 sellers from those countries offering products and services that are not easily found in other events.
The Thai tourism industry is well represented with 267 hotels and resorts, 32 tour operators and travel agents, 12 entertainment/theme park/cultural products, 6 transportation companies, 5 other travel services and 9 travel industry associations.
This year, we are glad to welcome our friends from Yunnan Provincial Tourism Administration for the first time.
Other innovations this year included a forum for Buyers and Sellers on Yesterday, two keynote sessions and a debate on creative travel and Do It Yourself (DIY) in Tourism. The two Keynote sessions was on “Changing Destination Perceptions Through Creative Tourism” and “DIY in tourism: Dynamic Packaging, Pros And Cons,” followed by a debate.
This is the first time we are having a debate on these topics, and we are positive the exchange of views will provide some valuable food for thought.
TTM+ 2013 is also an opportunity for the Thai tourism industry to recognize the friendship and support of many individuals and organizations across the globe that have been staunch allies of Thailand through good times and bad times. This year, we honored 38 recipients from 24 countries with the Friends of Thailand Award last night.
In previous years, the Friends of Thailand Awards were presented in conjunction with the Thailand Tourism Awards at a separate ceremony.
However, TAT decided to move the Friends of Thailand Awards to be a highlight of TTM+ this year to publicize it to the large gathering of tourist businesses and media attending.
Ladies and gentlemen,
All the success that Thailand’s tourism industry and TAT enjoyed in 2012 and so far in 2013 is not possible without the wonderful support of our media friends whether they are based overseas or here in Thailand.
We owe much to the professional coverage of our tourism industry by the media to report things as they are. And as we are aiming for more customer engagement via Marketing 3.0, the media is helping us immensely to make known the feelings of people who visited us to other potential visitors around the world. See for yourself:
(Show tourist quotes onscreen)
Thank you very much for your “amazing” support of Amazing Thailand
Khop Khun kha.