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Thailand’s Journey of Resilience and Innovation with JFCCT Tourism Committee Chair

Episode 36 of Trends features Anthony Hoglund, a corporate travel veteran, discussing the challenges and innovations reshaping Thailand’s tourism amid post-pandemic recovery.

In Episode 36 of Trends, we encounter Anthony Hoglund, a seasoned corporate traveller, whose tenure of 14 years with Amadeus has taken him across continents, from Bangkok to Madrid, the global headquarters of Amadeus, and Boston.

Anthony presently serves as Vice President and Head of Legal for Amadeus Asia Pacific, stationed in Bangkok. His responsibilities extend to spearheading Amadeus’s industry affairs initiatives in the region. Beyond his regional duties, Anthony leads a global legal team supporting Amadeus’s airline distribution business unit. He also holds the positions of President of the Spanish-Thai Chamber of Commerce in Thailand and Chairman of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce Thailand (JFCCT) Tourism Committee.

The spectrum of tourism in Thailand encompasses various types, including wellness and health tourism, cultural tourism, MICE tourism, business + tourism “bleisure,” and general relaxation and recreation.

Similar to global trends, Thailand’s tourism sector underwent significant setbacks during the pandemic, resulting in a loss of organizational talent. Consequently, reskilling for economic resurgence has become a pivotal aspect of the kingdom’s tourism agenda. Despite a resurgence in revenue from hotel service charges bolstered by the return of Chinese tourists to Thailand, there’s still reluctance among workers to rejoin the hospitality sector. Moreover, the industry faces a labour shortage as many who left during the pandemic have not returned.

Former tourism sector employees were among the worst affected by lockdowns and travel restrictions, prompting many to seek alternative employment. Despite the revival of opportunities, a considerable number of ex-workers have moved on. The prolonged duration of the pandemic has led many former talented tourism employees to undergo complete retraining and establish themselves in more stable and resilient industries.

As tourism contributes approximately 18% to Thailand’s GDP, it remains a driving force behind the nation’s economic growth. However, foreign tourist arrivals are projected to reach only 25-30 million this year, significantly lower than the pre-pandemic level of 39 million in 2019.

The digitization of Asia’s tourism industry continues to advance, with the widespread adoption of digital tools. Anthony highlights Amadeus’s longstanding leadership in travel technology, leveraging digital tools to empower success in the travel and tourism sector.

Regarding travel trends, Amadeus has distilled over 5.3 million data points from major global markets, identifying four “traveller tribes” expected to shape the future: Pioneering Pathfinders, Memory Makers, Excited Experimentalists, and Travel Tech-fluencers.

AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants are revolutionizing the business landscape in Southeast Asia, offering personalized travel recommendations, responding to queries, and providing translation services, thereby enhancing visitor experiences.

Leading hotels are integrating AI-powered facial recognition technology to streamline check-in and check-out processes, ensuring a seamless and contactless experience, while also enhancing national security.

Consumer behaviour towards travel has significantly evolved post-COVID, with technology playing a pivotal role in facilitating this transformation. From digital booking platforms to AI-powered chatbots and immersive experiences through AR and VR technologies, Asia leads the travel-tech revolution.

Anthony pointed out that Sustainability is a growing concern, with 43% of travellers expressing interest in sustainable travel options, although this interest tends to wane at the time of booking. Anthony, leading the JFCCT Tourism Committee, is actively working towards a more sustainable, resilient and equitable tourism economy in Thailand.

Anthony emphasized the option for airlines to utilize sustainable aviation fuel, albeit at an additional cost, which consumers may be hesitant to bear.

In conclusion, Anthony envisions a promising 2024 for Thailand’s tourism industry. As head of the JFCCT’s Tourism Committee, he endeavours to ensure the widespread adoption of digital tools and sustainability initiatives, fostering a healthier and brighter future for the industry.

Managing Director - DBC Asia | + Articles

David Barrett is a MICE Consultant, Marketing Strategist and digital video advocate. Founder of DBC Group, Member of Institute of Place Management (MIMP) his motto is “Everybody has a story to tell. Let me tell yours.”

David is a long-term resident of Bangkok having lived and worked in the Thai capital for more than 32 years. He is recognised in the Thai tourism and hospitality industry for his passion for promoting Thailand, his love of Thai food, and his creative approach to marketing.

64 years young, David is a Brit in Bangkok. Born in St Helier, UK, he returned to the UK and set up home in Cornwall during the COVID pandemic. With business back as usual, David has returned to Thailand. He’s a man on a mission to interview leaders and trend-setters in business, sustainability, the arts and entertainment. You can watch his weekly conversations on Trends YouTube channel.