A recent forum in Thailand Chiang Mai was aimed at giving much-needed exposure to the vast range of high-quality products emerging in Northern Thailand and support the growing number of international airlines mounting flights to the city known as the "Rose of the North."
The Tourism Authority of Thailand together with the Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association organised the Chiang Mai Tourism Forum 2007 during 6-9 December, 2007, at the Holiday Inn Chiang Mai Hotel.
TAT invited over 120 buyers from East and Southeast Asian countries, to meet with 50 local sellers representing golf courses, spas, boutique hotels, shopping plazas, hospitals, and restaurants in Chiang Mai and surrounding areas in the north of Thailand.
Today, Chiang Mai is served by Thai Airways International, Nok Air, Bangkok Airways, Thai AirAsia, PB Air, One-Two-Go Airlines, Silk Air, Tiger Airways, Air Mandalay, Lao Aviation, China Airlines, Korean Air, and Hong Kong Express Airways.
According to TAT Governor Mrs Phornsiri Manoharn, "All the major components to help promote Chiang Mai as a new destination are in place." She complimented the Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association for its cooperation and support.
She added, "Chiang Mai is the economic, communications, cultural and tourism centre of Northern Thailand. In recent years, it has undergone considerable economic development but still retains its historic heritage. It is also becoming increasingly well-known as a centre of traditional Thai massage, meditation, spas, health and wellness."
Mrs Phornsiri noted that the accommodation sector is vastly improved, with new properties ranging from specialist boutique hotels to health and wellness retreats to deluxe resorts.
At the same time, the growing transport links also include road transport. The Asian Highway network now taking shape throughout Southeast Asia will, in the not too distant future, link Singapore with Kunming, via both Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
The city is also winning international magazine awards for its charm and lifestyle. And events like last year's Royal Flora Ratchaphruek Horticultural Expo, visited by over three million people, have helped raise the city's international profile.
Mrs Phornsiri noted that a number of the "Royal Initiative Discovery" projects, which highlight the sufficiency economic concept of His Majesty the King, are located in North Thailand, and well worth checking out.
"Whether as a location for fashion shoots or golfing holidays or a health and wellness retreat, Chiang Mai is really a perfect destination of choice," Mrs Phornsiri said.
She noted that the best time for regional tourists to visit would be during the Green Season between 1 May – 31 October, 2008, when the monsoon rains make the entire North Thailand region lush and a radiant green.
The Forum is expected to see a significant increase in visitors from Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Korea.
Participants were given a detailed briefing on Chiang Mai as a tourism destination and participated in tourism workshops and business discussions followed by a thank you dinner in the Thai Lanna style.
Complimentary tours were also organised for all buyers and hosted media to explore major attractions in Chiang Mai and the surrounding areas.
In January – June 2007, total international and domestic visitor arrivals to Chiang Mai totalled 2,382,147, up 11.83% over the same period of 2006. The average length of stay was 3.53 days, average expenditure per person per day 2,660.49 baht which generated tourism revenue of 19,637.43 million baht.