Deputy Governor Juttaporn Rerngronasa expresses her confidence about European outbound markets resilience towards Thailand.
TravelDailyNews: How is the European market reacting to the flow of bad news which hit Thailand since the end of last year?
Juttaporn Rerngronasa: We had last year a growth of 12.8% from all of our European markets, which generated 6.15 million travellers. The growth was supported by the rise of Russian travellers, up by over 42% last year. But more traditional mature markets such as Germany, the UK, France and Italy recorded good growth rates. Germany and Spain were up by 9% while France, the UK or Italy progressed in a range of 5% to 8%. Europe is a faithful market which knows very well Thailand. Despite all the troubles, we have seen a rise of 7.6% during the first four months of 2014 with a total number of 2.75 million travellers. Germany is the only market which showed a slight decrease out of Europe since the beginning of the year.
TDN: How do you explain Europe’s resilience?
J.R.: Europe is a mature market which comes to Thailand for over 30 years now. I believe that Thailand is well known from Europeans who know that our political situation does not affect coming tourists. They also know that Thailand offers excellent value for money. Only the insurance problem could have damped the demand but now the situation is coming back to normal as the curfew has been lifted.
TDN: Russia is growing tremendously but quantity does not necessarily mean quality. What is your strategy to get more of Russia’s upper market?
J.R.: Russia is Europe number 1 market with over 1.7 million travellers in 2013. It is true that Russia has grown a lot quantitatively in the last few years as Thailand opened up to this market. We now look at increasing revenues from Russia by targeting and facilitating the Russian FIT. Our strategy includes promotion of honeymoon travel, wellness and also what I would qualify as “light” medical tourism, such as weight loss or medical check-up. We created an app about Thailand in Russian language which gives lots of information to individuals about destinations, shopping, activities etc…
TDN: How about the promotion towards European mature markets?
J.R.: We deal with a mature market indeed which helps us to promote secondary destinations as well as authentic off-beat activities and programs. For example, we start to promote areas such as Trang, Tarula, Koh Lipe or Karom in Nakhon Si Thammarat for beach holidays. We launched many programs proposing relaxation courses and training. We also developed this “Thainess” concept. Travellers can then experience authentic Thai culture and way of lifes such as learning cooking, taking care of elephants, living with fishermen or staying with communities within CBT programs. We also actively promote heritage and historical areas.