THE Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is allocating 10–15 per cent of its annual marketing budget to a new campaign focused on promoting the country as a Muslim-friendly tourism destination.
The Muslim Friendly Destination campaign was launched at Thailand Travel Mart Plus yesterday.
Muslims account for about 23 per cent of the world’s population, or 1.6 billion people. Thailand, which currently ranks second on the Global Muslim Travel Index 2015 of Muslim-friendly destinations (for a non-Muslim country) after Singapore, will target Muslims within South-east Asia and further afield, said Tanes Petsuwan, executive director for Europe, Africa and Middle East, TAT.
“Muslim countries in the region, such as Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia already have strong ties with Thailand, so our promotional activities in those markets will differ from those in places like Dubai, North Africa and Europe.”
The strategy will also attempt to tap emerging source markets such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, as well as large Muslim communities in non-Muslim countries including England, Germany and Canada.
The NTO will help educate buyers working with Muslim travellers about Thailand, as well as supporting local businesses in developing services and facilities, including prayer rooms, for such visitors.
“It’s about a lot more than just serving halal food,” said Tanes.
Not all Muslim visitors to Thailand declare their religion on their immigration cards, which means authorities have to make a “best guess” as to the current size of the market segment and related targets.
“We’re using the UAE as a yardstick,” he said. “We had about 350,000 arrivals from there last year and we’re targeting about 8.5 per cent growth.”
TAT is this year targeting 28 million international arrivals generating revenue of US$41 billion.