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WORLD TRAVEL MARKET (WTM) 2011 November 7, 2011

November 7, 2011

WORLD TRAVEL MARKET (WTM) 2011
Networking Lunch
Address by Mrs Juthaporn Rerngronasa
Deputy Governor for International Marketing
(Europe, Africa, Middle East and the Americas), TAT
November 7, 2011

 

Sawasdee kha and good afternoon,

TAT Board of Directors, members of the media, friends and colleagues in the travel and tourism industry,

Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the Thai delegation to WTM 2011, I bid you a warm welcome to our networking lunch. Thank you very much for joining us.

It is always a great pleasure to be here at WTM in London re-connecting with friends and colleagues in the global travel and tourism industry and forging new partnerships with colleagues representing the UK and Ireland travel and tourism industry. We truly appreciate your continued support for the Thai tourism industry.

I would like to begin by addressing a situation Thailand is now facing. Due to seasonal rains that were much heavier than usual, our country is experiencing the worst flooding in over 70 years. At TAT, our hearts go out to all the Thai people affected by the inundation. All Thais are pulling together to help each other and Thailand has received support from many countries including the United Kingdom. We are grateful for your empathy and kindness.

Let’s now turn to some tourism-related information that may be of interest to you.
The flooding is mainly affecting the central provinces along the rivers including some outer parts of Bangkok. The inner part of Bangkok where tourists normally go has not been flooded other than the locations along the Chao Phraya River during high tides. The remainder of Bangkok that is currently flooded consists of residential and industrial zones, not tourist areas.

Suvarnabhumi Airport – Thailand’s main international gateway – is well protected, so has remained open throughout the floods and will continue to operate normally. Transportation from the airport into central Bangkok is also normal. You can connect to flights to other destinations within Thailand as per usual.

Flood waters in Ayutthaya and some other central provinces are starting to subside. It is hoped that tourist attractions in Ayutthaya will be operational by month’s end. This can be seen as the beginning of a new era for Thailand.

Favourite destinations for travellers from the UK and Ireland; such as, Krabi, Phuket and Ko Samui, are not affected by the floods and are welcoming tourists. Charming Chiang Mai and other destinations in the North are more than ready to welcome visitors for the coming winter. Tourist spots elsewhere in the central provinces; such as, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Kanchanaburi and Ko Chang have not been affected by the floods and are fully accessible.
Tourists can directly fly to the Phuket and Chiang Mai International Airports which have served as Thailand’s gateways to conveniently explore the North and the South. Moreover, you can check flood situation update online at http://www.thailandtourismupdate.com

 

Ladies and gentlemen,
Our two kingdoms– Thailand and the UK– have always enjoyed a close friendship and strong bonds.

Thai tourism has proven to be very resilient in the past, recovering quickly when faced with difficult times. We are sure that the situation will soon pass. Once the floods end, TAT hopes that an ever-increasing number of travellers from the UK and Ireland will visit Thailand. This will make an important contribution to the Thai economy, especially in terms of creating jobs in the tourism sector that will generate income to help the people who have been affected. Your kindness will forever be remembered, and we hope you will continue to visit the Kingdom of Thailand with the same joy and enthusiasm.

The Royal Thai Government has a recovery plan to ensure a quick turnaround and for our country to return to normalcy. Big cleaning days and site restoration in key tourist attractions affected by the floods, as well as comprehensive Corporate Social Responsibility and voluntourism programmes will be launched. Both Thai and foreign tourists will all be invited to participate in the restoration of various sites.

We anticipate that life will be very much back to normal within a few weeks time. We very much look forward to proceeding with nationwide celebrations planned to mark the auspicious occasion of the 84th birthday of His Majesty the King. On the 5th of December, you will be amazed by millions of candle lights from the Thai people both in Thailand and overseas to celebrate the birthday of our beloved King.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Looking ahead, the government has officially designated 2011-2012, “The Miracle Year of Amazing Thailand 2011-2012”.

For the tourism sector, the government along with the private sector, NGOs and people from all walks of life will work closely together to restore international confidence in the destination.

Throughout “The Miracle Year of Amazing Thailand”, major events will be made even more magnificent. We invite you to witness miraculous moments in the Kingdom of Thailand and experience the natural and cultural splendour in our magnificent country.

The Royal Flora Ratchaphreuk being held in Chiang Mai from December 14, 2011, through to March 14, 2012, highlights Thailand’s natural and cultural diversity and is the first in the series of major events.

We would also like to draw your attention to the “Miracle of Phanom Rung”. This is the best known of all naturally occurring phenomena in the kingdom and is well and truly a moment to witness. At sunrise, witness the sun’s rays shining through all fifteen doorways of this famous stone sanctuary in a single shaft of light.

Ladies and gentlemen,
During the first nine months of 2011, international tourist arrivals to Thailand reached 14.4 million with a 27 per cent growth, and around 3.7 million were European tourists with a growth of nearly 20 per cent.

TAT is committed to ensure that the UK remains one of our top source markets from Europe. Thailand welcomed almost 635,000 UK visitors during January – September 2011 with a growth of 7 per cent over last year.

In 2010, the UK market was the number one source income generating more than 44 billion Baht or 880 million pounds to the Thai tourism industry. UK visitors had an average length of stay of 16 days per person per visit with an average daily expenditure of 3,600 Baht or 72 pounds.

Another interesting statistic from the UK market is that in 2010, a total of 67 per cent were repeat visitors. That is an extraordinarily high percentage of repeat visitors and certainly shows the high level of satisfaction.

On the aviation front, there are currently 35 direct scheduled flights per week between Bangkok and London being operated by four airlines – THAI Airways International, British Airways, Qantas and Eva Airways. Other airlines also bring visitors to Thailand through other points of the UK and intermediary hubs like Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong. In January 2012, Emirates will start flying from Dublin. We are also looking forward to the increase in flight capacity with Thai Airways as they introduce their new A380 aircraft onto the London-Bangkok route.

Another piece of good news is that from November 17, 2011, Thai Airways is adding Brussels, Belgium as the newest THAI destination in Europe.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Thailand will be focusing our future efforts towards delivering quality tourism by targeting niche-markets. Four key consumer segments with high purchasing power are golfers, medical tourists, newly-weds, and ecotourists. During this time of continuing economic uncertainty, we believe it is right to focus on these qualities and niche sectors of the market as they are more likely to be ‘recession proof’.

Golf tour operators and golf courses in Thailand report a healthy growth in business from the UK and Ireland. Recently, we organized the “Asia Pacific Golf Summit” in Pattaya. Among the speakers at the summit were Tony Jacklin, an English golfing hero, and Jimmy Connors, a tennis legend. TAT has also arranged golf fam trips with the purpose of exploring Thailand.

Health and wellness tourism is growing rapidly. In 2010, Thailand received more than 1.5 million international arrivals for medical treatment. Our country is proud to have professional expertise in both prevention and cure. Visitors also come to Thailand to learn how to meditate or apply natural therapies.

TAT will continue to promote our first class, luxury experiences and in particular replicate our success in attracting the wedding and honeymoon market.

We will also retain a strong focus on catering to the continuing growing trend for “Ecotourism”, a holiday that compliments its environment and the local communities. In addition to our annual UK Green Travel Awards, we have recently launched the ‘Thailand Green Alliance’. This is a group of UK tour operators committed to promoting green and responsible tourism in Thailand.

Recently, a group of more than 50 invited travel agents and media in the Europe, Africa and Middle East region were invited to survey Green Tourism products and services in Thailand under the campaign “Thailand Goes Green”.

In addition, TAT will be soon launching a micro-website “Thailand Goes Green”, http://www.thailandgoesgreen.net to provide additional exposure for Green Tourism products and services in Thailand.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,
While it is true that the Baht has strengthened against the pound, currency fluctuations have affected many other countries of the world. Thailand still remains excellent value for the British tourist and remains competitive against the cost of holidaying elsewhere in Asia.

In June 2011, Bangkok was voted the “World’s Best-Value City” in the June 2011 issue of the Sunday Times Travel Magazine, one of the most popular monthly travel magazines of the UK.

Over the last two years, the TAT London Office has been promoting the Family market, and we were delighted to be shortlisted as the “Best Long-haul Family Destination” in the recent Selling Long-haul Awards. Thailand also won an accolade as the “Best Long-haul Destination for Spa and Wellness.

In the UK market, beach resorts such as Khao Lak are growing in popularity and we continue to see more interest in Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand. At the end of this month, 12 tour operators from the UK and Ireland will be visiting both Chiang Mai and Phuket to attend our travel marts in both these regions.

At the heart of all TAT’s marketing activities are our friends and supporters from the UK and Irish travel industries. In 2012, our Friends of Thailand Club roadshow will be visiting 11 cities in the UK and Ireland and looking to meet over 1,000 travel agents and tour operator sales staff. We are also continuing to invest heavily in our Partners on Demand marketing fund which supports joint tactical marketing campaigns with our tour operator partners.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Thailand still has a variety of tourism products and including the renowned hospitality of the Thai people who are ready to welcome visitors from the UK and Ireland.

In closing, I would like to thank all of you for joining us here today for your ongoing support and look forward to hearing representatives from the Suvarnabhumi Airport and the UK travel industry sharing their views, so that we can work closely with you to ensure Thailand remains a leading destination brand for UK and Irish travellers. We would like to assure you that “Amazing Thailand Always Amazes You.”

Thank you and sawasdee kha.

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