Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM+) 2012
Thailand Media Briefing
By Mrs Juthaporn Rerngronasa,
Deputy Governor for International Marketing (Europe, Africa, Middle East, and the Americas), Tourism Authority of Thailand
7 June 2012
Sawasdee kha and good afternoon, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen.
On behalf of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Thai tourism industry, it is a great pleasure and privilege for me to welcome you all here. A big “thank you” to all the distinguished members of the media for your support and for sparing your valuable time to attend the Thailand Travel Mart Plus 2012.
In the interests of time, I will keep these remarks short and to the point.
This year is being commemorated as “Miracle Year of Amazing Thailand.” As you know, we have run the Amazing Thailand branding campaign since the late 1990’s with much success. We are retaining it in 2012 under the banner of “Amazing Thailand: Always Amazes You.”
“The Miracle Year” is a supporting project that was launched to highlight the essentially Thai things that have made Amazing Thailand a reality in the first place. It is marked by events highlighting the Royal Projects, Thai cultural events, traditional celebrations, popular regional tourist destinations, world-renowned Thai cuisine, Muay Thai, and the art and science of Thai massage. We will emphasize repeatedly that to find the best of Thailand and our culture, you must come to Thailand.
Let me now give you a quick update of the many important developments in the Thai travel & tourism industry.
Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM+) 2012, the Kingdom’s largest business-to-business travel fair, is the eleventh TTM organized by the TAT. We have a total of 462 buyers; out of this number 382 are actual buyers and 80 are trade visitors from markets around the world. Some 47% of these buyers are first-time participants at TTM+. This includes more than 80 buyers from European countries, over 40 buyers from the US and Canada, and approximately 35 buyers from Australia and New Zealand.
This year’s TTM+ has the broadest range of participating countries ever. We are welcoming new buyers from emerging markets from the Baltic region, Latin America, North Africa, and South Asia. We have also re-invited buyers from strong growth markets in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
There are 380 sellers led by 261 hotels, 30 tour operators & travel agents, and tourist companies from every segment of the industry. In addition, the TAT is continuing to support intra-regional travel at TTM+ 2012 with the participation of several NTOs from the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) including China’s Yunnan and Guangxi provinces, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam. We are proud to be a part of the GMS and partner with our regional friends as we prepare to become members of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.
One of the reasons why we have chosen the theme “Customise Your Experience in Thailand” for TTM+ 2012 is because we want our buyers and sellers to do exactly that. It's niche-markets that are the name of the game.
This year, TAT is refocusing its strategies to attract the huge number of niche market visitors seeking holidays and experiences more in tune with their personal preferences and lifestyles. Four of the key niche markets showing extensive potential are golf, wedding & honeymoon, ecotourism and health & wellness. Here are some details:
Golf: Thailand boasts over 200 world-class golf courses, many of them of to championship standards. We plan to highlight the variety of golf courses, services and golf events. In recent years, Thailand has hosted many major golf events such as the Thailand Golf Championship 2011 and the Asia-Pacific Golf Summit 2011.
Next year, Pattaya will be the host of a golf trade and exhibition events by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO). The event will be held during 30 April to 2 May, 2013, at The Royal Cliff Hotel Pattaya.
Health & Wellness: Thailand’s health and wellness advantage lies in both prevention and cure. Thai spas excel in quality and diversity, with variety and value that blends Western leisure concepts with traditional Asian therapies. Thailand is also an excellent place for people seeking to learn how to meditate, based on the country’s long-standing Buddhist traditions, as well as learning the healing art of massage.
Ecotourism: With the Thai tourism sector becoming increasingly conscious of environmental responsibility, the TAT will highlight its efforts to promote the eco-friendly management of tourist destinations. At present, there are more than 180 hotels recognized by the Green Leaf Certification Program, and a large variety of eco-friendly tourism products located throughout the Kingdom.
Weddings & Honeymoons: Thailand is becoming an increasingly popular location for wedding couples and honeymooners. The TAT will introduce beautiful destinations for weddings such as beaches, as well as major romantic attractions in northern Thailand, for every market worldwide.
In the January 2011 issue of Recommend magazine of the U.S., Thailand was named by the travel agent community as the “Sexiest Romance Honeymoon Destination in Asia.” At present, India, Korea, Japan, France, and the USA are becoming major source markets of weddings and honeymoons to Thailand.
The UNWTO forecasts international tourist arrivals to increase by 3% to 4%, reaching the historic one billion mark by the end of this year. The Asia-Pacific region, especially Thailand, is expected to be a major contributor to this growth. In 2011, our visitor arrivals totalled 19.23 million, a good growth of 20.67% over 2010.
For this year, we are targeting 20.5 million international arrivals, generating approximate revenue of 766 billion Baht (25 billion USD). According to the latest figures for January to April 2012, international arrivals totaled 7.34 million, up 7.07% over the same period of 2011.
There are now five international airline gateway points: Suvarnabhumi Airport, Don Mueang Airport (in Bangkok, now used only by low-cost carriers), and the airports in Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai and Chiang Rai.
According to Airports of Thailand, during January to March 2012, the number of passenger movements at all five international airports totalled 26.49 million (+7.53%). The international airports in Phuket and Chiang Mai, in particular, provide convenient and direct access to our regional attractions. Phuket airport handles 253 international flights a week by 30 airlines, while Chiang Mai’s gets 98 flights from 7 airlines.
Now let’s look at marketing. Our Marketing Strategies for 2012 will focus on enhancing Thailand’s brand image and stepping up digital marketing, while also paying attention to sustainable tourism and effective crisis communications. We utilize modern marketing concepts every step of the way to enhance the experience of our visitors.
For Brand Image, the TAT will continue to reinforce the essence of the Thailand brand, “Amazing Thailand Always Amazes You”, with a focus on Authenticity, Value for Money, and Hospitality. According to the seventh annual FutureBrand Country Brand Index 2011-2012, Thailand ranked number 7 for tourism. We were ranked Number 1 in terms of Value for Money. Thailand was also among the top 10 for key attributes such as Food, Beaches, Nightlife, Shopping, and Accommodations.
Digital marketing will also play an increasingly important role in the tourism sector. The Internet is now the norm, not the exception, for booking airlines, hotels and all types of travel needs. There is an increasing reliance on search and recommendation tools like tripadvisor.com and TravelPost.
In fact, our communications strategy has up to 30% of online content. We target both the mainstream travelers and have online plans to support specific niche segments such as medical tourism and golf. When a crisis erupts, up-to-the-minute situation updates are distributed online directly to the media and our overseas offices worldwide.
We are active on all major social media platforms and operate two main websites:
www.tourismthailand.org for consumers
www.tatnews.org for international media
Moreover, we produce a series of short films particularly for showing online on YouTube and other websites. Of special mention are the movies “Hearing the Sunshine” and “Wish You Were Here.” Do check them out if you have time.
Recently, the TAT has launched the “Discover the Other You” digital campaign to promote creative tourism. This global campaign allows visitors to learn more about Thai culture on their holiday and offers a chance to win one of three 7-day creative tourism experiences for two people in the Land of Smiles. Each is worth $10,000 including $2,000 cash.
The campaign seizes on the popularity of travelers wanting to try something new and learn new skills such as Muay Thai (Thai boxing), Thai traditional massage and Thai cooking while enjoying their holiday. A special website has been set up for this campaign, and I would strongly recommend taking a look at: www.discovertheotheryou.com . The project runs from April to October 2012.
Sustainable tourism is another key aspect of the TAT’s strategy. Travellers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their own travel plans. They are willing to pay more for “green” options, as sustainability is becoming an essential part of their daily lives.
The TAT has continuously promoted sustainable tourism through the concept of the Seven Greens, which encourages Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) among operators. We collaborate with various partners to identify interesting options for eco-friendly travel such as the Green Hotels, the Green Islands of Ko Chang, and newer environmentally-friendly tourism products.
Last April, the TAT’s Seven Greens Concept and another two projects (The Ban Na Ton Chan Community) and (Organic Agriculture Project at Sukhothai Airport) won PATA Gold Awards 2012. These awards clearly show that our environmental preservation strategy is working. It is also a great incentive for all of us in the Thai tourism industry to ensure that we balance economic and ecological progress in our future development plans.
The fourth and final part of the TAT’s strategy will be effective crisis communications. Through a combination of digital media tools and traditional channels, the TAT is able to communicate the accurate information that tourists need when a crisis situation occurs.
Of course, effective marketing in today’s highly competitive environment cannot be achieved if TAT itself does not evolve and get with the times. To help us arrive at our destination, TAT Governor Suraphon Svetasreni has initiated the DISCO blueprint for the organization to follow.
No, we are not going to dance to the music of the Bee Gees while we work. DISCO is actually an acronym for
D: is for Digital Marketing
I: is Image Building
S: is Sustainablility
C: is Crystallization & Crisis Management
O: is Organizational Management
Our goal is to be a tourism marketing organization of excellence. However, we cannot be this without your support. I hope we will have the pleasure of your company.
Distinguished media delegates, one of Thailand’s major advantages, its geographical location at the heart of Asia, will be further bolstered by the positive changes taking place in both ASEAN and the GMS. In terms of ASEAN, the trade and services liberalisation that will come with the ASEAN Economic Community, or AEC, by 2015 will boost people movements through and within the 10-member grouping.
In terms of the GMS, the opening up of Myanmar will also benefit Thailand, as the two countries are connected by air, land and sea. We are even doing our own small part in the upcoming AEC by taking over 100 TAT staff on a familiarization trip in Lao PDR and Vietnam last month and this month.
A new marketing strategy has just been approved by the ASEAN NTOs’ Tourism Marketing and Communication Working Group, which Thailand is proud to be chairing for 2011-2012. This strategy identifies the relevant products and target markets, charts specific short-term and long-term strategies and ways to execute them via adequate funding, communications channels and measurement indicators. It also charts ways of boosting collaboration with ASEANTA and the private sector.
Now allow me to update you with our product line.
In recent years, Thailand has seen a number of amazing new retail centers that offer a total shopping experience -- from the latest designer goods to traditional Thai arts and crafts. These add to existing centres such as Emporium, the Siam Paragon and CentralWorld, all world-class shopping and entertainment complexes which are linked by direct walkway to the mass transit system, the Skytrain.
Two new shopping centres are Terminal 21 on Sukhumvit Road and Asiatique The Riverfront, a trendy lifestyle complex, the first of its kind located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Please do find some time to visit them. Of course, our hotels rank among the finest in the world and they’re fantastic value for money, too. All of the top brands in the hotel business have been represented in Thailand for a number of years, and there are new properties to satisfy every segment of travelers.
From the luxurious St. Regis in Bangkok and Soneva Kiri in Trat Province, to the unique stays at Praya Palazzo and Bangkok Tree House, to the health and wellness havens of Chiva-Som in Hua Hin, RarinJinda in Chiang Mai and Thanyapura in Phuket - Thailand offers the widest selection of accommodation to suit all budgets and interests.
The Amazing Thailand Grand Sale 2012, our annual two-month shopping extravaganza, will begin next week, on 15th June, and end on 15th August 2012. We are once again proud to be the partner of Visa International in extending fantastic shopping deals to our visitors.
They can enjoy discounts of 10-80% and many other privileges during the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale 2012 at more than 15,000 participating shops such as department stores, shopping malls, King Power Duty Free, jewelry shops, golf courses, Thai products, spa and massage, hospitals, as well as from leading airlines and online travel agencies. There are also discounts at participating merchants at selected tourist attractions in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai, Hua Hin, Pattaya, and Ko Samui.
In addition, we are currently in partnership with Krung Thai Bank to issue the Miracle Thailand Card. This is a debit card especially for foreign visitors to Thailand. Travelers can use the card to buy goods and withdraw cash from ATMs anywhere in Thailand without incurring charges. The basic card costs 100 Baht and includes personal accident insurance.
I hope this briefing has given you a quick snapshot of some of our new products, policies and promotions. I would like to end by thanking all our media friends for your friendship and support. I wish you have a fruitful and productive TTM Plus 2012.
Thank you very much and Sawasdee kha.