H.E. Mrs. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports of Thailand, delivered the following speech at the “Amazing Thailand Networking Lunch: CLMVT Connectivity” on 10 March, 2017, which was held as part of Thailand’s participation at the ITB 2017.
Sawasdee kha, guten tag and good afternoon,
Your Excellency, State Secretary, Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia
Representatives of Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam,
Members of Media, Distinguished guests,
On behalf of the Thai tourism industry, I would like to thank all of you for being with us. As I always keep in my mind, ‘A part of travelling is about making friends.’ I am so glad to meet our friends from across Europe and our neighbours from Cambodia, Lao PDR., Myanmar, and Vietnam gathering here today in Berlin to join this memorable moment.
Thailand’s Tourism Situation
Ladies and gentlemen,
In 2016, Thailand received 43.9 billion Euros in tourism revenue from the international market with growth of 13 percent over 2015, and visitor arrivals totalling 32.59 million, up 9 percent over 2015. All of these figures exceeded our set target. We would like to thank all of you, our ‘friends of Thailand’, for your support. This growth of revenue was larger than the growth in visitor numbers. It proves that the strategy of targeting higher spending, higher quality tourists has been a great success over the past year.
In 2017, we are targeting 73.7 billion Euros in revenue. Of that total, 48.2 billion Euros will come from international markets and 25.5 billion Euros from domestic travel. We will continue to strengthen the diversity of our quality products in order to achieve that target. In this regard, the government has emphasised on its plan to gear up Thailand in five dimensions comprising Sports Tourism, Medical and Wellness, Wedding and Romance, Marine Tourism, and ASEAN Connect.
- Sports Tourism
In the past few years, we have seen the growing trend of sports enthusiasts seeking a unique competitive moment and memorable holiday. Our strategy now is to promote Thailand as a Sports Dream Destination. Here are some marketing efforts to promote Thailand as a potential sports hub.
Firstly, we will continue to attract many more of the world’s global sports competitions to be held in Thailand. For example, the Air Race 1 will kick off in November 2017, at the U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport. Moreover, we are currently bidding to host the Moto GP 2018. Big sporting events like this will draw spectators worldwide to set a journey to Thailand.
Secondly, we intend to raise Thailand’s sports competitions to the global stage; for example, the Jet Ski World Cup in Pattaya has now been internationally acknowledged for its counterpart events.
Thirdly, we are consistently supporting sports training complexes; such as, Thanyapura in Phuket along with a new well-equipped one in 2018, the Rugby International School in Pattaya. This large-scale sports venue will be implemented for international sporting competitions and training venue and featured with the greenery Private Bike Route for riders to enjoy.
Due to the great location and perfect climate for outdoor activities, Thailand can offer a variety of sports events all year round including:
- The 13th World Wai Khru Muay Thai Ceremony in Ayutthaya
- We have also promoted many marathon programmes in Thailand like the Laguna International Phuket Marathon, in Phuket, Bangkok Marathon, Chiang Mai Marathon, and Khon Kaen Marathon. You can choose to have dream run in Amazing Thailand every week
- Air Race 1 in Pattaya
- Iron Man 70.3 World Championship in Phuket
- and Jet Ski World Cup in Pattaya
- Medical & Wellness
The number of tourists who are coming to Thailand for health and wellness purposes has grown strongly these days. So, we are joining hands with the Ministry of Public Health and the related private sector with the plan to encourage Thailand to be the region’s ‘medical and wellness tourism’ centre. Now, the extension for the long-stay visa has been approved from one to ten years for senior travellers from 14 countries. The enactment is estimated to be effective at the end of March.
Another move includes encouraging medical tourists to make a trip to various targeted destinations. Pak Chong in Nakhon Ratchasima and Prachin Buri will be pilot models as a ‘Wellness City’ due to the ready infrastructure for tourism and treatment; such as, the present Abhai Phubejhr (อภัยภูเบศร) Hospital in Prachin Buri with its unique alternative medicine, and its location as a gateway to Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam.
These factors have made them emerging potential destinations for this market. Also, a programme for this segment will be created by combining an all-inclusive health and wellness treatment comprising physical strength, beauty, and anti-aging with the tour programme.
- Wedding & Romance
Thailand offers extensive choices of breath-taking scenery to create the best memorable once-in-a-life-time occasion.
Recently, TAT organised the “Thailand Wedding Destiny” project to showcase the kingdom’s potential as a world-class wedding destination. The campaign invited nine lucky couples including some from the UK, France, and the Czech Republic to get married in four Thai cities – Ko Samui, Phuket, Krabi, and Sukhothai.
Another event to reaffirm Thailand’s status as the world’s leading wedding and honeymoon destination is the Destination Wedding Planner Congress 2017 in May. Phuket will be the venue for international high-ending wedding organisers along with suppliers to network, share new ideas, as well as look into the latest trends about the tie-the-knot industry.
- Marine Tourism
Currently, we are developing more ports with its facilities along the coasts of the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand to tap into this market. We have also joined hands with the related ministries and agencies to promote Thailand as a maritime tourism destination since seeing the huge potential for this segment.
Now, we aim to attract more international yachting events as well as organise our own. Phuket has become an emerging marine destination since it hosted the Thailand Yacht Show 2016 last December and the Phuket International Boat Show (PIMEX) last January. The events were successful and joined by the region’s premier yachting and luxury brands.
To develop the marine connectivity within the country, last month, the Hua Hin- Pattaya ferry officially came into service to shorten the commuting time between these two famous beach destinations.
Besides Yacht and Super Yacht business, we are moving ahead with Port Authority of Thailand & private sector to expand Phuket, Laemchabang, and Bangkok Port to be Turn around Port for growing Cruise Tourism within the next 1.5 – 2 years
- ASEAN Connect
At present, we realise the significance of ASEAN as a single community. Continuous promoting and strengthening the intra-relations among the countries have been taken into account.
Also, this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the ASEAN community. Therefore, we will conduct numerous joint PR and marketing activities with our ASEAN colleagues to encourage intra and inter regional travel; such as, Two Countries, One Destinations, the launch of the Visit ASEAN @ 50 campaign, ASEAN Media Fam Trip, and a social media campaign to stimulate awareness and promote tourism in ASEAN.
All of these activities will showcase our unity and make our community even more strengthened. We firmly believe that the entire region has supported the greatest diversity of culture, nature and heritage with some of the finest tourism products and attractions.
Thailand as the World’s Gems and Jewellery Hub
Thailand has also long been a renowned source and manufacturer of gemstones, jewellery, and gold. These products are high-quality, distinctively designed and elaborately crafted by skilled Thai artisans, which are equivalent to those overseas but sold at a reasonable price. Good examples are “Pandora” & Swarovski” that are global branded jewelry, designed and crafted in Thailand.
In this regard, we are promoting ‘Thailand as the world’s gems and jewellery hub’ and encouraging a purchase of the country’s gemstones as a priceless ‘token of visit’. As Thailand is reputable as a wedding destination, let exquisite Thai jewels make this occasion an even more memorable moment for your beloved one.
I would like to recommend Thailand’s legendary gem and jewellery landmarks in Bangkok as follows:
- Silom, Surawongse and Ban Mo (สีลม, สุรวงศ์, and บ้านหม้อ)– the Diamond and Jewellery Street
- Maheasak (มเหสักข์)– the Gemstones Street
- Yaowarat (Chinatown) – the Golden Street
- Charoen Krung (เจริญกรุง) Road, Khao San (ข้าวสาร) Road, and Pratunam (ประตูน้ำ) – the Silver Street.
For guaranteed quality, tourists are advised to look for these signs; such as, the Jewel Fest Club, the Gems Jewellery and Precious Metal Confederation of Thailand, and the Thai Gems and Jewellery Traders Association before buying any jewellery.
Moreover, the Royal Thai Government has issued measures to enhance tourists’ confidence in Thai jewels’ quality and tradability assurance.
Thailand will be hosting some significant events this year and next.
The 2017 World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit in Bangkok during 26-27 April will be joined by hundreds of top leaders worldwide from the tourism and economy sectors to discuss the most important issues in the industry.
TTM+ 2017: The 16th Thailand Travel Mart Plus Amazing Gateway to the Greater Mekong Subregion (TTM+) 2017 will make it back to Chiang Mai again in June 2017 under the theme of “Delivering Unique Experiences.” It will exhibit both the country’s and the Greater Mekong Subregion’s new travel products and services.
The ASEAN Tourism Forum 2018 will be held in Chiang Mai during 22-26 January, 2018. The Forum will bear the theme of ‘ASEAN– Sustainable Connectivity, Boundless Prosperity.’
In finishing, I would like to thank you for your attention. We will continue to develop emerging quality tourism products for travellers to have the best holidays as always. And among those is to highlight the connectivity tourism with the Greater Mekong Subregion countries. I believe as long as we are united together, we can go further and deliver greater experiences to travellers.
Thank you, danke schon (ดังเค้อเชิน) and khop khun kha.
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