A fragile world economy and unpredictable tourism sentiments in Thailand’s main source markets have pushed the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to minimise losses by investing in emerging markets, TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn told TTG Asia.
He said risk reduction was a priority since he took office in September 2015, and one of the things TAT has done is to crack down on zero-fare tours to reduce the country’s dependence on high-volume markets like China and Western Europe.
TAT has also turned its focus to South-east Asia, which contributes almost as much arrivals as China. As of August, the region accounted for 25 per cent of international arrivals into Thailand. Chinese arrivals made up about 30 per cent.
Yuthasak said there is potential to grow South-east Asian numbers by promoting Thailand as a weekend destination and by dangling shopping, medical treatments and wellness programmes as key lures.
TAT plans to open offices in countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar and the Philippines over the next few years. Yuthasak believes that “(arrivals from) these countries will grow at least 10 per cent in the first year of the establishment of the new offices”.
Beyond the region, TAT opened an office in Prague mid-August to tackle Central European markets, and will further extend its reach in the western world with an office in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Toronto, Canada by September 2017.
Once these are accomplished, TAT intends to establish a physical presence in Johannesburg to oversee marketing in South Africa.
“With the South African office, TAT’s network will cover all regions of the world,” remarked Yuthasak.