THE Middle East is among the top emerging markets for Thailand, according to the country’s tourism board.
“Arrivals for the first six months of 2007 show that Middle Eastern arrivals are 173,856, or an increase of 21.44 per cent over the same period last year,” Shaikh Rahmatullah, Middle East representative for the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), told TTN.
“The Middle East is among the 20 emerging markets with strong growth potential,” he said.
For the year 2008, the country hopes to attract 15.7 million tourists, or six per cent over 2007. This is remarkable for a country that saw tourist arrivals of 7.7 million in 1997.
Thailand welcomes visitors from all over the world, he added.
“What visitors want is a destination that offers them variety of tourism products and services that match their dreams when selecting a holiday destination. Middle Eastern travellers look for excellent shopping offers, enjoy the traditional hospitality of Thai people and enjoy shopping for Thai arts and crafts,” he said.
In addition, the country is attracting many visitors eager to take advantage of its reasonably priced quality medical facilities. Hospitals in Thailand not only have modern up-to-date equipment and facilities but also have qualified medical professionals of all kinds, Rahmatullah said, adding that the country has now also begun to attract Middle Eastern travellers for its spas and other alternate forms of well-being.
Rahmatullah suggested that agents looking for ways to sell Thailand should focus on attracting quality tourists with high yields.
This is in line with Thai Tourism Minister Suvhit Yodmani’s aim to change course from the mass tourism roadmap of the last five decades towards more environment-friendly solutions.
Accordingly, Rahmatullah pointed to the TAT’s segmentation and regrouping of its core national tourism products into a seven-point package that is marketed worldwide under the banner of “Seven Amazing Wonders” of Thailand.
These seven categories underscore the country’s key attractions: nature, beaches, health and wellness, heritage and history, festivities, traditional Thai hospitality and trendy new attractions such as boutique hotels, shopping centres, nightclubs and entertainment outlets.
“On marketing and promotions, we draw attention to the popular ‘Amazing Thailand’ slogan that proved so successful in the past. It underscores the image of Thailand as a peaceful, hospitable country, a year-round tourism destination offering quality products and services and value-for-money. The theme is a key component in our branding strategy, which also includes strong efforts to maintain a market share, boost tourism revenue earnings, and enhance Thailand’s competitive edge,” he said.
Finally, Rahmatullah said, Thailand is seeing a rise in the number of African tourists coming into the country, both for holiday and business purposes. “We are monitoring the growth and if need be, TAT presence may be increased in that part of the world,” he said.