Tourism business operators from elsewhere in Southeast Asia are scheduled to meet with 130 agents in Thailand on November 26, to discuss the wider market that will be created when the ASEAN Economic Community takes effect next year.
The event, the first of its kind in regional travel-business matching, will be held by the Thai Travel Agents Association, which specialises in outbound travel. The ASEAN Tourism Business Matching event aims to bring sellers from outside to meet buyers in Thailand.
Suparerk Soorangura, president of the TTAA, said the event was part of the industry's preparations for expansion in the region when all 10 ASEAN nations form a single market under the AEC agreement.
He said at least 130 buyers in Thailand would explore new opportunities when meeting with the foreign operators. For their part, overseas operators could get up-to-date information from local partners.
Of about 50 sellers from nine nations in the region, it may be surprising that Myanmar is providing the biggest group of 17 companies, followed by the Philippines with nine and Indonesia with eight.
"The TTAA is helping private operators expand their business into ASEAN markets, ahead of the beginning of the AEC," he said.
Suparerk said about 5 million Thais travelled outside the country last year.
The number is expected to soar by 10 per cent this quarter and continue to grow in the coming year. Several countries in the region have already established their tourism themes for next year to boost arrivals, including Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand.
Travel experts at recent conferences such as TravelRave in Singapore and the World Travel Market in London have confirmed that Southeast Asia could become one of the fastest-growing markets on the global map.
Thailand witnessed 4.7 million arrivals from ASEAN nations during the first nine months, down by 11.3 per cent from the same time last year. The number of visitors from ASEAN markets this year is expected to be a million fewer than the projected 8 million because of the political crisis in Thailand.