Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tourism Authority of Thailand targets Affluent Chinese Visitors

The Tourism Authority of Thailand recently launched a new campaign called ‘Wonderful Thailand 2008’, which targets high-spending Chinese tourists to the Kingdom. Select Chinese media have been invited to experience the high-end tourism offerings and attractions of Thailand in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket, with the hope that these invited visitors will spread the news about Thailand’s top class tourism offerings to more affluent Chinese visitors back home.

The campaign, with support from Thai Airways International and TAT's Beijing Office, showcases Thailand’s top quality tourism products and services. Invited press members will have a chance to spend their nights in five-star hotels in Bangkok and experience boutique resorts and qualified tourism offerings and tailor-made products in Phuket and Chiang Mai, including spas and other health care and health-related products and services.

According to TAT’s Governor, Mrs. Phornsiri Manoharn, TAT is trying to eradicate low-priced package tours from China, and has come up with new initiatives to attract higher spending Chinese visitors to Thailand. There are currently 50 travel agencies in China recommended by TAT for tourists to arrange their trips.

“It might sound very controlled but we really need to maintain our standards,” said Mrs. Phornsiri Manoharn, TAT’s Governor, revealing that each package tour for high-spending tourists that these operators organize cost 9,000 Chinese Yuan or around 50,000 Baht, and these tourists will tend to spend more during their stays.

As soaring oil prices create an impact on the travel industry in general, possibly hurting the longer-haul markets, TAT has turned more of its attention to nearby Asian markets.

Ms. Eumporn Jiragalwisul , TAT’s Director, East Asia Market Division, said, “After a series of meetings with local land operators and China’s tour operators, the zero-dollar tour problem has been fully addressed and the situation is improving. Meanwhile, TAT is specifically emphasizing on promoting Thailand in the Chinese market.”

In March this year, a mega-familiarization trip was organised and invited operators had a chance to experience new travel routes to offer to their clients. In June, to tap the potential of China’s second most populous province, TAT signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Shandong Provincial Tourism Administration (SPTA) to work within a framework of friendship and closer tourism co-operation.

Last year, Chinese visitors to Thailand reached over a million for the first time, making it the fourth largest Asian market after Malaysia, Japan and Korea. The first five months of 2008, 20 years after Thailand was first promoted in China in 1988, has already confirmed some substantial growth from the market. While TAT aims high for quality visitors, it also expects tourists from Mainland China to surpass all countries and become the largest market for Thailand within three years.

The number of repeat visitors from China is also improving from only 20% many years ago, compared to 80% from the European market, to a satisfactory 40% currently. An increase of 50% is likely to happen by 2009

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