The Thailand Travel Mart Plus 2012, hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand opened on June 6 with a welcome reception of over 1,000 travel buyers and sellers. The three-day show, 6 to 8 June featured several forums discussing tourism business as well as networking functions.
TTM+2012 highlighted four niche tourism categories; golf, ecotourism, weddings & honeymoons and heath & wellness. These markets were selected as theme niches for the show due to encouraging growth trends over the past few years.
There were 44 booths from 42 businesses categories under the four themes; seven companies under the golf section; 11 companies under weddings & honeymoons; 19 companies under heath & wellness and five companies under ecotourism.
This year, the event welcomed 380 sellers with 420 booths. They have an opportunity to secure business from 336 buyers from 61 countries. There are new buyers from 11 countries: Albania; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Cambodia; Chile; Kuwait; Maldives; Nepal; Ukraine; Uruguay; and Uzbekistan. Of the 336 buyers, 241 are hosted buyers, 79 are international buyers and 16 domestic buyers.
Hundreds of buyers and sellers as well as media representatives registered at the biggest trade show in Mekong region. A panel discussion and forum was held with the keynote speech “A Changing World: The Challenge for Tourism Business “ delivered by Bill Sanderson Limited Company managing director Bill Sanderson. A panel discussion followed on the topic of Customise Your Experience in Thailand moderated by Asia Pacific Golf Group chief executive officer, Mike Sebastian.
Despite the push for high-yield visitors at this year’s Thailand Travel Mart Plus, the backpacker and student travel markets are still a top priority for the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
TAT trade marketing manager, Chris Lee, said that backpackers and students were integral to industry growth. “Quality tourism does not only mean luxury tourism. It is about how much money the tourists are going to spend, and their average length of stay,” he said.
“The average spend per day of the student and backpacker markets may not be a lot, but looking at the total amount of money they spend while they are in Thailand, it is pretty good, because they are here for so long,” he added.
According to Lee, students and backpackers helped drive up the average length of stay by UK travellers in Thailand to 17.5 days last year, an increase of 1.5 days compared to the year before.
“The average length of stay for the normal tourist is two weeks, so what’s making the difference from 14 days to 17.5 days are the backpackers, who are obviously staying a lot longer,” he explained.
This increase in average length of stay has contributed to the growing value of the mature UK market, which is seeing limited growth in absolute terms, but significant growth in revenues generated. The market registered a 1.5-per cent year-on-year increase in arrivals in 2011, with receipts up by 17 per cent over the same period.
Lee attributes some of Thailand’s success in tapping the student and backpacker markets to a campaign launched last year in conjunction with STA Travel Singapore. TAT invested 22,000 pounds (US$34,000) in the Thai for Two campaign, which incentivised student travellers to return to Thailand with a friend.
Run from end-May to mid-June 2011, the campaign achieved a 3,690-pax jump in student arrivals compared to the previous year.
“This was the most successful campaign we’d ever run, and the most successful campaign they (STA Travel) had ever run,” said Lee, who is overseeing a similar promotion this year.
Written by: Kanchana Ganglani