July 10, 2007
Agency looks to wedding couples, gays for more income
Higher-yield tourists, including wedding couples and young travellers, are among the target groups being considered by the Tourism Authority of Thailand at a meeting here to draw up marketing strategies for 2008.
The authority’s governor, Phornsiri Manoharn, said the TAT would relax its concentration on the number of tourists visiting Thailand, and instead try to attract visitors with higher income, who will spend more.
It is also mulling restricting the number of visitors to spots like Koh Samui, Koh Chang and the Amphawan Floating Market out of concern that the locations are being badly affected by hordes of visitors.
The agency is aiming for a 10-per-cent increase in revenues from inbound tourism over the Bt547 billion expected this year. Revenue from the domestic market is expected to grow by 4.5 per cent over this year’s projected Bt377 billion.
This makes next year’s revenue target for total inbound and domestic tourism Bt999 billion – just Bt1 billion short of Bt1 trillion.
“The TAT will be focusing on quality tourists, rather than quantity, so that means searching for other alternative groups from around the world,” Phornsiri said.
The authority’s annual marketing meeting has been preceded by information and advice on marketing strategies from private sector bodies.
For several years, the TAT has been trying to boost the quality of tourists visiting Thailand from places like Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, China and Scandinavia. This year, it will open overseas branches in Ho Chi Minh City, Dubai and Moscow to attract more visitors.
The authority’s deputy governor for international markets, Jutaporn Reungronasa, said Thailand could draw more “trendy” tourist groups, including wedding couples, the double-income-no-kids (Dink) market and the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transvestite (GLBT) group.
To attract wedding couples, the TAT plans to send direct mail to couples and to wedding studios in India, proposing that they come to Thailand for their wedding because the costs here are now less than those in India and the number of wedding parties there is increasing.
The authority also plans to lure ‘dinkies’ and hopes that GLBT visitors will also increase.
“These are the new market segments that will drive Thailand’s tourism business next year. These groups are always higher spenders than normal tourists,” Jutaporn said.
Tourism and Sports Minister Suvit Yodmani said another potential group was backpackers who are young travellers or students willing to spend more.
All of the TAT’s projections and plans for next year will be finalised this week and the authority will conclude its plan next Tuesday.
“The TAT believes it will achieve its targets of 14.8 million international tourists and 82 million trips within the domestic market,” said Phornsiri, adding that the agency would soon launch a new campaign, together with 500 private operators, offering discount cards for domestic travel during the rainy season.
The authority is planning to market domestic travel on a regional basis. History and culture along the Chao Phya River will be used to promote the central region for tourists from throughout the country. The North will be marketed for Lanna culture and natural scenic sites, to attract local travellers for overnight stays.
The Eastern region will be promoted as the gateway to Cambodia and Vietnam, because of current efforts to boost the exchange of tourists across the borders.
The South will be singled out to attract a rebound in international tourism. The TAT plans to encourage airlines to fly more charter services into the South.
There is also a different subject on this week’s agenda. The Tourism and Sports Ministry is proposing the TAT limit the number of tourists to some destinations, including Koh Chang, Koh Samui and the Amphawan Floating Market in Samut Songkhram province because it believes they are being too badly affected by mass tourism.
Suvit said the country needed sustainable, long-term tourism, rather than concentrating on larger numbers of visitors. Consequently, the ministry is conducting 12 pilot projects around the country, which seek input from communities into the planning and conduct of tourism in their areas.
Don’t worry, it hasn’t yet got to the stage where you either have to produice a bank statement or prove you are gay in order to visit Koh Chang. The poor are still welcome, although not as welcome as Amex Platium Card holders.