Thailand eyes new horizons in Latin America for LGBT tourists

Chiang Mai had its first pride parade this year

Thailand is starting to court LGBT tourists from Latin America, seeing huge opportunities particularly from Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Columbia.

Jefferson Santos, representative to South America for the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said Brazil alone has a 25 million-strong LGBT community, making it the top priority market for Thailand.

Pride parade returned to Chiang Mai this year

“We will start developing the LGBT market from Latin America markets,” Santos said, although TAT has yet to open a new office in South America as originally planned.

To cash in on this segment, TAT will join the LGBT Forum, scheduled to take place in Sao Paolo in June this year, as well as the LGBT Symposium in Bangkok this September.

In 2018, over 200,000 tourists from Latin America markets travelled to Thailand, mostly to Bangkok, Phuket, Phi Phi Island and other beach resorts in the south.

Jorge Rocha, representative of Mexico-based International Travel Group (ITG), one of operators joining a fam trip to Thailand last week, said many tourists including those in the LGBT segment are interested in holidaying in Thailand. Despite the long distance, travel to Thailand costs about the same as to the Caribbean.

Not only does Thailand welcome LGBT travellers, the country offers unique culture that people in South America are looking for, said Rocha.

Marcia Tenroller of Trip and Travel Tour in Brazil said Thailand could become a new destination for tourists from longhaul markets.

Sichaphat Aukkapreechapat, cluster assistant director of sales leisure at Holiday Inn Express in Krabi province, added that travel to Thailand is not too expensive compared to some other destinations like Japan or Hong Kong.

On top of family and FIT guests, the property is also expecting to welcome more LGBT visitors from Latin American markets in the near future.

Meanwhile, Tarn Panita, director of sales and marketing at the Siam Hotel in Bangkok, said the exemption of visa-on-arrival fee for many nationals including in Latin America would help boost tourism to Thailand.

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