Thailand eyes top 3 place in Asia for tourism revenue

Thailand eyes top 3 place in Asia for tourism revenue
A Thai temple in Ayuthaya is captured against the setting sun.
PHOTO: John Tan

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has finalised its marketing plan for next year, positioning the Kingdom as a quality destination and aiming to keep it in Asia's top three in terms of tourism revenue.

Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, minister of tourism and sports, on Monday called on the entire industry, including both the private and public sectors, to work on the principles of the "three Rs": restructuring, rebalancing, and repositioning. The aim is to market the country as a quality destination.

She said TAT's 2016 marketing plans focused on increasing tourist expenditure, raising the average length of stay, and improving the overall quality of the visitor experience.

Because of the current economic instability in Europe and the United States and the lack of recovery in Japan, the agency now is focusing on emerging markets, especially China, India and ASEAN countries.

This Friday, Kobkarn will sign a Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) on tourism professionals with ASEAN secretary-general Le Luong Minh in a bid to boost intra-regional tourism as well as to enhance the travel industry's workforces throughout the region.

Last year in Thailand, Western countries contributed 60 per cent of tourist arrivals and Asia 40 per cent. The ratio is expected to be 50:50 this year as a lot more tourists come from Asia. China alone is expected to contribute 6 million tourists this year, increasing to 7 million next year.

"In 2016, we are confident that we will remain in the top three in terms of international tourism receipts in the Asian region," Kobkarn said.

The tourism-revenue target for is 8 per cent higher than the projected earnings for 2015, or around Bt2.3 trillion. Receipts from both international and domestic tourism will rise by 8 per cent, above the growth projection for the overall Thai economy for 2016.

TAT noted that Thailand has great connectivity via air, road and sea, and allows visa-free or visa-on-arrival access for citizens of 68 countries and territories.

The 2016 marketing strategy will retain the "Amazing Thailand" brand as well as the "Thainess" identity, with concentration on niche markets such as golfers, newlyweds and honeymooners, health and wellness visitors, and halal tourism for Muslims. There will also be a focus on female travellers.

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