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Targeting the 'newest' global tourist.
Thursday, 31st July 2008
Source : Tourism Authority of Thailand.
The high-spending tourists are expected to become Thailand's number 1 tourists market in 3 years.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is campaigning for quality Chinese visitors to boost business from Mainland China and to curb the long existing "zero-dollar tours."

TAT recently launched a new campaign called ‘Wonderful Thailand 2008', which targets high-spending Chinese tourists to the Kingdom. Some Chinese media members have been invited to experience the high-end tourism offerings and attractions of Thailand in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket, with the hope that these invited visitors will spread the news about Thailand's top class tourism offerings to more affluent Chinese visitors back home.

According to Mrs. Phornsiri Manoharn, TAT's Governor, the campaign, with support from Thai Airways International and TAT Beijing Office, showcases Thailand's top quality tourism products and services. Invited press members during the trip will have a chance to spend their nights in five-star hotels in Bangkok and experience boutique resorts and highly qualified tourism offerings and tailor-made productsin Phuket and Chiang Mai, including spas and other health care and health-related products and services.

As every party concerned in both countries is still trying to eradicate low-priced package tours from China, TAT has to come up with new initiatives to jump onto the bandwagon of attracting Chinese visitors to Thailand.

TAT's governor added the agency has tried its best to promote only quality tourism traffic from China and in an attempt to help solve the low quality tours at the consumer level, since 2004 TAT has assigned a special logo to qualified China-based travel operators. So far there are 50 travel agencies in China recommended by TAT for tourists to arrange their trips.

"It might sound very controlled but we really need to maintain our standards," noted Mrs. Phornsiri, revealing that each package tour for high-spending tourists that these operators organize cost 9,000 Chinese Yuan or around 50,000 Baht, and these tourists will tend to spend more during their stays.

China is becoming one of the world's greatest sources of tourists with an influx of outgoing Chinese coming to Thailand each year. As soaring oil prices create an impact on the travel industry in general, TAT has become more realistic by targeting visitors from nearby Asian markets. As such, it's just the right time for the ‘Summer Thailand 2008' campaign.

Ms. Eumporn Jiragalwisul , TAT's Director, East Asia Market Division, said after a series of meetings with local land operators and China's tour operators, the zero-dollar tour problem has been fully addressed and the situation is improving. Meanwhile, TAT is specifically emphasizing on promoting Thailand in the Chinese market.

In March this year, a mega-familiarization trip was organised and invited operators had a chance to experience new travel routes to offer to their clients. In June, to tap the potential of China's second most populous province, TAT signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Shandong Provincial Tourism Administration (SPTA) to work within a framework of friendship and closer tourism co-operation.

With ‘Summer Thailand 2008', TAT hopes to encourage opulent Chinese to consider Thailand as their preferred destination, during this critical period when the world economy is being hurt by rising oil prices, and the changes in the schedule of public holidays in China resulting in shorter but more holiday periods.

Last year, Chinese visitors reached over a million for the first time, making it the fourth largest Asian market after Malaysia, Japan and Korea. The first five months of 2008, 20 years after Thailand was first promoted in China in 1988, has already confirmed some substantial growth from the market. While TAT aims high for quality visitors, it also expects tourists from Mainland China to surpass all countries and become the largest market for Thailand within three years.

Also the number of repeat visitors from China is improving from only 20% many years ago, compared to 80% from the European market, to a satisfactory 40% currently. An increase of 50% is likely to happen by 2009.
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