Niche Market Experts Provide Insights as Thailand Travel Mart Plus 2012 Opens for Business

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Bangkok, June 7, 2012:  Experts in some of the travel industry’s most promising niche-market sectors provided unique insights to participants at the Thailand Travel Mart Plus GMS (TTM+), which opened in Bangkok on 6 June 2012. 

The briefings on golfing holidays, health & wellness, weddings & honeymoons, and ecotourism were designed to help the 330 buyers attending TTM+ 2012 to become better informed about the opportunities that now abound in the Thai travel industry.

According to TAT Governor Suraphon Svetasreni, “Niche markets are the way of the future. They provide many new opportunities for doing business with the growing number of specialist travel agents while also feeding business to the increasing number of Thai product suppliers in each of these niche markets.”

He added that these four niche markets were chosen because Thailand has the perfect range of products for each of them, cutting across quality, service, price, value, location and demographic segments.

The briefing session was chaired by Mr Mike Sebastian, Chief Executive Officer/Chairman, Asia Pacific Golf Group, based in Singapore. Here are a few of the key points made by each of the invited presenters.

Mark Siegel, Owner of Golfasian: “The world has roughly 50 million golfers of whom 30% travel regularly for golf holidays. Why golf in Thailand? To put it simply, Thailand offers the world’s best golf experience.

Thailand has five main golfing centers and offers something for every golfer including resort golf courses, mountainside golf courses, and even golfing in major cities. The low cost of green fees, hotels, food and drinks, and transportation make Thailand the least-expensive premium golf destination in the world.

There are resorts to suit every budget and style of travel including world-class hotels, dedicated golf resorts, and even private villas for the visiting golfer to rent.

However, Thailand’s secret weapon on the golf course is the caddie. Compulsory at all golf courses, a caddie is there to boost a golfer’s spirits no matter how the game is going. Caddies put the fun back into the game of golf and guarantee an enjoyable round for everyone.”

Andrew Jacka, Director, Spa Origins Co., Ltd. & President, Thai Spa Association: “Thailand, with its traditionally strong family units and long history of nurturing and caring, is well suited to be a player in the health and wellness industry.  The country offers both preventive and curative therapies and treatments; and when all is said and done, Thailand is the perfect place for post-treatment convalescence and recovery. You can also learn how to meditate or massage for the ultimate ‘take home’ experience, while patients and family members alike can share in the total experience thanks to great value-for-money pricing.

Thailand is an obvious destination for health-conscious visitors, with its many historical, cultural and geographic tourist spots, supporting the concept of ‘being at one with nature’ or ‘looking within’ for a more meditative approach to life. More than 1.8 million foreign nationals receive services from over 1,200 public and private hospitals across the Kingdom annually.

Add to this over 1,200 spa and massage centres with some 25,000 trained therapists, and you have over 2,500 venues catering to your health and wellness needs – from modern medicine through to traditional healing. Thailand also offers easy accessibility, spectacular tourist destinations, and a history of nurturing and caring.

With Thailand currently chairing international accreditation working committees for both the ASEAN Spa Standard and the ISO Wellness Spa Services Standard, the Kingdom’s overall health and wellness industry’s standards can only continue to improve, for the benefit of all concerned.”

Ms Chananya Phataraprasit, Executive Director, Asian Oasis: “Ecotourism opens up a whole new dimension of possibilities for tourists looking for something really different from their trip to Thailand… such as getting closer to nature and the local environment, first-hand cultural experiences, deepening their understanding of Thai communities, or actually working to give something back to the communities that they visit.

From rolling mountains to the deep blue sea, from historic rivers and golden rice fields to traditional villages, the possibilities for an eco-traveler are limitless in Thailand. The experience chosen should have the least impact on the environment and simultaneously give back to the local community visited.

At sea, or on beaches or islands, some may select experiences such as sailing, kayaking and wind surfing. In the mountains or hills, travelers can choose to stay at an eco-lodge and take part in activities such as trekking, rafting and biking. Even in towns and cities, it’s possible to surround oneself with nature, eat organic food and live naturally with the help of alternative energy.”

Ms Neha Mehrotra, Owner, Foreign Wedding Planners: “A wedding in Thailand is, in one word, ‘Magical’. Thailand has some of the finest resort hotels which are totally flexible when it comes to supporting complicated Indian wedding rituals, as well as offering beautiful beaches, amazing international cuisine, excellent entertainment options, world-class shopping and a vibrant nightlife. Not to forget that following a beautiful wedding, the couple can stay and have a fabulous honeymoon with a variety of leisure activities.

India is the most outstanding example of success for Thailand’s wedding sector. The wedding market from India alone is worth an estimated 550 million Baht a year, according to knowledgeable travel executives who watch this niche market with a keen interest.

My company has successfully managed Indian weddings for clients from Australia, South Africa, Hong Kong, Nairobi, the UK, Dubai and, of course, India. We have provided complete hospitality for guests from 21 countries and everyone has loved this country like no other! Each of my clients’ weddings has been a brilliant experience and I have loved every moment of it here in Thailand.”

Mr Keith Baker, Manager, Tzell Travel Group: “Thailand provides the perfect product fit for the U.S. travel market in terms of product range, costs, service standards, seasonality, brand image and opportunities for doing something new and exotic. Couples say that good customer service is an absolute must, and Thailand fits that bill well.  Some 82% of honeymoons are researched by brides, and Thailand had a good image among key target markets.”

Finally, Mr Gwang Lim Kim, Manager, Happy Honeymoon Club of South Korea: “Our club members are honeymooners who seek a perfect travel experience through a ‘DIY (Do It Yourself)’ honeymoon. This combines comfort and satisfaction with the opportunity to choose their own honeymoon packages according to each couple’s individual preferences, and Thailand is perfect for this on all fronts.”