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Thailand tourism update

REPORT FROM BERLIN: Thai Airways and the National Tourism Organisation (NTO), the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), made a joint presentation at ITB…

REPORT FROM BERLIN: Thai Airways and the National Tourism Organisation (NTO), the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), made a joint presentation at ITB yesterday, represented by Juthamas Siriwan, Governor of TAT, and Vasing Kittikul, Executive Vice President Commercial.

The country’s target for 2004 was to attract 12 million visitors, but it fell just short at 11.7 million – a 16.5% increase. The target for this year has remained unchanged, even after the tsunami. TAT is targeting an 11% increase to 13.4 million arrivals.

Post-Tsunami – The NTO is promoting the `Upper Southern Beach Area` – Cha-Am, Hua Hin, Pattaya and Samui. It hopes to develop new resort areas in the south, with proposals for new roads, and also new railways. It is also aiming for niche markets, promoting attractions such as spas, cooking and culture. Another aim is to emphasise Thailand as a gateway to the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS). For instance, the Thailand Travel Market this year will include promotion of GMS.

The TAT assumes the Europe market has been lost for the peak season (through March), so it concentrated on attracting visitors from regional markets. A road show planned pre-tsunami will go ahead, to Germany and Sweden, but not as a hard sell – more to express condolences for tourists killed in the tsunami.

Many commentators say that some areas have been improved by reconstruction – such as Kamala Beach and Patong – and that nature has cleared away some of the pollution. Even the sea is cleaner and clearer. Khun Siriwan said the best donation people can give now to Thailand is to visit the country.

In 2005, 65% of the marketing budget is being allocated to the Asia Pacific, compared with 60% in 2004.

The Thai Government says that Bangkok’s new airport (Suvarnabhumi) will open this September; although many assume that this will be further delayed. And to help recovery to the south, Krabi will be designated an international airport, and its runway will be extended to 3,000 metres.

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