Thailand’s largest business-to-business travel trade show is under way in Bangkok, buoyed by a strong rebound in visitor arrivals in the first half of 2015 and an upbeat outlook for the second half.
Designed primarily to help the kingdom’s small and medium sized enterprises gain marketing and networking opportunities, the Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM+) 2015 has attracted a turnout of 362 buyers from 50 countries and 374 sellers from Thailand, Lao PDR., Cambodia China, Vietnam and Myanmar. Of these 167 (46.13%) are first-time, and 195 (53.87%) are repeat buyers.
The exhibitors’ line-up is dominated by hotels, especially the many exquisite boutique properties coming up throughout Thailand. The buyers’ contingent is dominated by tour companies from China, India and the UK as well as emerging markets like Belarus.
In her opening statement at the welcome dinner, Minister of Tourism and Sports Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said, “The Thai tourism industry is set for a promising future thanks to increased arrivals projected from China, India and the ASEAN countries, all of which are in our immediate neighbourhood. Also, in the first quarter of this year, we have seen a good sign for long-haul markets; such as, Latin America and the USA, Southern Europe, Germany and France.”
According to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the preliminary figure of Thailand‘s tourist arrivals from January to 25 May, 2015, is around 11.95 million (+19%), which generated about 578 billion Baht (about AUD 22.26 billion).
In January-March 2015, China is surging ahead as the top source of visitors with 2.03 million arrivals, up by 96% over the same period of 2014.
In 2015, TAT has set a target of 28 million visitors, generating around US$42 billion (1.4 trillion Baht) in revenue.
The entire TTM+ is saturated with the “Discover Thainess” campaign slogan. This global marketing and promotional campaign highlights the experiences offered by the Thai way of life, Thai culture and hands-on Thai activities; such as, Thai boxing, Thai massage, Thai cooking, and Thai classical dance.
In line with that campaign’s slogan, the theme of the welcome reception was “From Folk Kitchen to Royal Cuisine” which featured a variety of Thai cuisine, widely considered to be one of Thailand’s strongest selling points and a true reflection of Thainess.
The TTM+ theme, “Experience with Us”, also fits in with the “2015 Discover Thainess” campaign, reflecting the idea that travellers want to “experience” and learn something new to satisfy a deeper need for participation, creativity, community and idealism.
On the opening day, the TTM+ included two educational forums for the foreign buyers and Thai sellers.
Matthew Zatto, Manager, Destination Marketing Organisations, Southeast Asia, for TripAdvisor outlined how the world’s largest online travel site has revolutionised the way travellers make decisions and provide feedback on their experiences.
A specialist selection of 10 pre- and post-tours has been assembled to highlight the best of “Thainess” products and services. Many points are being featured for the first time at the TTM+; such as, biking tours, a home-stay experience in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ayutthaya, Street Food Tours, visit to a mask-making museum in Loei province, and much more.
Another important component of the TTM+ is the 12 “Hidden Gems – emerging destinations renowned for their unique history, culture and lifestyle.
Complementing the new destinations is the focus on niche-market customer segments; such as weddings and honeymoon, health and wellness, green tourism, culinary tourism, shopping, sports tourism, river cruises and yachting.
Edited by Peter Needham