Thailand has emerged as a popular tourism destination for Indians. The efforts of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) can be largely attributed to this growth. BE’s Saptarshi Deb spoke to Isra Stapanaseth, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Delhi.
Q. How do you view the Indian tourism market from the perspective of the tourism industry of Thailand? What is the share of Indian tourists visiting Thailand?
A. Thailand continues to be a very popular destination for Indian travellers. In 2018, we welcomed close to 1.5 million Indian tourists to Thailand, which is a remarkable increase of 123.33% from the previous year. Also, revenue spend by Indians visiting Thailand has increased by a staggering 18.67%. It proves that Thailand is fast emerging as a popular luxury tourism destination for Indian tourists. Our target for 2019 is two million Indian tourists to Thailand. We are working hard towards achieving our goal.
Q. What are the new emerging tourist destinations in Thailand?
A. Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Koh Samui, and Krabi are the usual favourite holiday destinations for Indian travellers. For families, we are promoting destinations like Koh Chang, which is an amazing beach destination in the east coast and Koh Samet near Rayong. The hills in Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai in the north and Khao Yai, which is close to Bangkok and is famous for wineries and golf courses, are also becoming popular. We have also introduced new destinations like Amphawa and Samut Songkram, which are very close to Bangkok and offer unique local activities and attractions for tourists.
For honeymooners, destinations like Koh Tao and Trang are hidden gems in Thailand that are perfect romantic getaways with beautiful untouched beaches. Trang also hosts the unique under water weddings every year in February and that is a great experience for couples.
Q. What marketing strategies are being undertaken by your organisation to establish Thailand as a global tourism destination?
A. TAT New Delhi is focusing on new segments like first time international travellers and senior citizen travellers.
It's carrying out various activities to promote holidays to Thailand for them. We also promote family travel, luxury travel, women travel etc.
Apart from this, to educate the travel trade about the new products and services, TAT continues to promote Thailand through roadshows, workshops, TV/radio/print/outdoor/digital advertisements and promotions, familiarisation trips etc. Apart from this, we also promote different itineraries and experiences to the Indian travellers through regular emailers and information about upcoming activities in Thailand.
Q.What new tourism activities are being promoted by your organisation?
A. This year, we will be promoting special interest tourism and we intend to focus on the wellness segment. Thailand is known for its spas, which have traditional Thai massages and healing massage techniques and also for world class wellness retreats, which attract the luxury segment tourists.
For adventure enthusiasts, Thailand offers many activities like rock climbing, zip lining, marathons, biking tours, and certified courses for scuba diving apart from a number of water activities that are popular among the youth.
Another segment that is very popular is sports tourism. Whether it is playing golf in internationally acclaimed golf courses in Thailand or learning the art of Muay Thai (Thai boxing technique), sporting activities attract a large number of tourists to our country.
All the above mentioned sectors have been contributing significantly towards the growth of tourism in Thailand. This was earlier attributed only to the travellers from tier-1 and metropolitan cities but now even travel enthusiasts from smaller cities are showing a keen interest in travelling to Thailand to enjoy offbeat products and experiences.