Thai spa: the country’s renowned wellness tourism

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Thai spa services are internationally recognised, thanks to the hard work and successful perceptions of customer satisfaction to provide improved services and business at international standards to clients from around the world.

The Thai Spa Association (TSA) was founded a decade ago, with the objective to promote and preserve the well-being of the spa industry and safety for its consumers.

Phattiraporn Khiewsanun, TSA vice president, said that to celebrate its 10th anniversary this year, the association wants to continue what it has been doing — educating therapists and entrepreneurs alike, as well those interested, so as to push Thai spa to become the leader of global spa businesses.

Apart from spa education, the association focuses on standards and innovation to attract a wider international clientele and yet maintain the authenticity of Thainess in Thai spa services.

Several government agencies play a part in promoting Thai spas and the work of the association, starting from the Ministry of Education dealing with spa courses taught at educational institutions to the Commerce and Foreign Affairs Ministries when it comes to international trade.

To welcome the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, Phattiraporn said the association is a main player in pushing Thai spas to their outstanding status in the region, and beyond.

“The Thai Spa Association was assigned to draft documents and meet with related agencies in all 10 ASEAN countries. Spa businesses in some countries are already mature, as in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, while Myanmar and Vietnam have just entered the business and say they want Thailand to lead,” said Phattiraporn.

In Thailand, Phattiraporn said there are more than 100 schools, institutions, colleges and universities teaching spa businesses throughout the country. Some courses are offered within tourism industry and hospitality management subjects.

Located in Bangkok, Chiva-Som Academy offers spa courses to the general public and to its future staff serving its original business, the ‘Chiva-Som International Health Resort’ in upscale Hua Hin.

After its success in Hua Hin, Chiva-Som founder Boonchu Rojanastien thought if the company wanted to expand its business in Thailand or overseas, it should have its own training centre so as not to depend on others.

Krod Rojanastien, sales and marketing manager of Chiva-Som Academy, said what makes his institution different than others is its foundational approach to classes.

“Our fundamental courses are outstanding. They include anatomy, physiology and body massage. These subjects are very popular. We don’t teach only these. Our students get to take related courses such as spa development and management. Those coming here don’t have to be masseuses or therapists. They may be entrepreneurs and want to open a spa business,” Krod said.

Courses are at the certificate level — giving recognition for attendance and professional accomplishment.

Seventy per cent of the students are Thai, while foreign students come from a diversity of countries — the Philippines, India, the Middle East and Kenya. Krod said some of them only fly to the country to take courses and return home to open spa businesses. That is why the school was chosen a decade ago to be founded in the capital where travel is convenient.

In Thailand, the services part of the spa business grows continously at 6-10 per cent annually. The Thai Spa Association said last year such the part had a business value at Bt16 billion. This year, it was expected to generate Bt18 billion, exclusive of spa products and related wellness tourism.