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New products, new campaigns and new TAT offices

As the Royal Thai Government has designated these two years as the Thailand Investment Year 2008-2009 and with tourism still contributing heavily to the socio-economic development, the future of the industry looks bright despite the current political turmoil and worldwide oil price crisis…

As the Royal Thai Government has designated these two years as the Thailand Investment Year 2008-2009 and with tourism still contributing heavily to the socio-economic development, the future of the industry looks bright despite the current political turmoil and worldwide oil price crisis.

Speaking at the Thailand Travel Mart 2008, Mrs. Phornsiri Manoharn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand revealed that this year’s 15.7 million visitor arrivals target will be met and though the oil price crisis has become a real concern for all parties involved, it is just one of those external factors TAT had taken into account before eventually coming with its figure forecasts every year.

And in getting prepared for possible missing traffic from those long-haul travels, TAT has taken steps to tap closer countries in Asia, with a hefty emphasis on emerging markets like India, China and the Middle East.

More severe is the crisis in oil prices, which has rocketed to a record high. Since short-haul travels are more likely, TAT has opened its new offices in these three new markets. Last year, the number of Chinese visitors reached for the first time over 1 million while arrivals from India and the Middle East also drastically increased. Dubai in the United Arab Emirates where TAT’s Middle East office is located, opened early this May, is the biggest market for Thailand among the Arab countries. TAT has set a target of 491,000 visitors from the region in 2008. Many of the Middle East visitors flock to Thailand for treatments in its world-class hospitals, as medical tourism has emerged as a strong niche market and the country is promoting itself as a medical hub. Of the 15.7million visitor target this year, 1.4 million will be medical visitors.

Concerns about the political stability are growing given the current demonstrations in Bangkok, Mrs. Juthaporn Rerngronasa, Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications, dismissed the turmoil as a serious threat for tourism growth reasoning a demonstration is a common practice is any democratic country.

“We use our overseas offices as channels of communications to report closely to travel agents and operators about what’s happening. As far as I’m concerned, Thailand is still a very safe country to visit.”

She added since the Northeast (Isan in Thai) will be a new highlight TAT emphasizes during 2008-2009, the lesser-known region will be specifically and heavily promoted to attract international visitors.

The Governor mentioned in her speech that the Visit Thailand Year in 1987 and the Amazing Thailand Year 2001-2002 proved overwhelmingly successful, and TAT has been working continuously to come up with intriguing new campaign and strategies to ensure the message of communications it wants heard will reach the targeted markets. Realizing the changes in consumer behavior, it has reclassified the products into seven clear categories used to promote Thailand as a destination of varied products. These segments, tagged the “Seven Amazing Wonders of Thailand”, are the World’s Friendliness Culture, the Land of Heritage and History, Sun Surf and Serenity, the Beauty of Natural Wonders, Your Sense with Unique Trends, the Beauty of Wellness and Well-being, and The Land of Year Round Festivals.

With the reclassified segments and other several existing and upcoming hotels and properties referred to as ‘boutique’, the variety of products of Thailand will be even more enhanced and the status of Thailand as one of the top ten destination for relaxation in visitor’s perception, as Mrs. Phornsiri pointed out during the TTM+2008 media briefing, will be strengthened. Other upcoming facilities including the airport rail link, Bangkok’s Art and Culture Centre and an influx of hotel chain investment will also help boost up a better environment for the tourism industry.

Meanwhile, Thailand will be seriously focusing more on the MICE market and will be hosting upcoming MICE-related events including the 91st Lions Clubs International Convention with more than 25,000 expected delegates from around the world.

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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