TAT invites longhaul markets to Experience Thainess

THE Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is hoping its recent win at FITUR 2014 for a village stay initiative will inspire more southern Europeans to try the experience for themselves.

Launched two years ago, Experiencing Thainess took home a prize in the cultural category in FITUR’s Active Tourism awards, a first for the country.

Major tour operators such as TUI already feature Experiencing Thainess in their programmes and the experiential village stays are proving popular among younger tourists from northern Europe. While this has yet to catch on in southern Europe, TAT executive director for Europe, Tanes Petsuwan, has set a target of getting 20 per cent of Spain’s 123,000 tourists to spend at least part of their holidays in villages.

Commented Tanes: “(The scheme works because) local people also love meeting foreigners, so it’s good for both sides.”

A typical programme consists of tourists spending one week in a village and another in a hotel, and the number of villages involved has doubled to more than 30 since the scheme began, ranging from farming settlements in the north to fishing communities in the south.

Tanes said: “It is not only the places visited (on holiday) but the people who are important. Our research shows visitors keep going back to Thailand because of the local people.”

He hoped the award “will be the motor to attract more tourists”.

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