With the number of Indonesian tourists to Thailand on the rise during the last three years, the TAT Singapore office has been actively attracting the upscale segments of visitors.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand(TAT) believes that emerging markets like Indonesia will continue to grow, and therefore expects to draw affluent Indonesian visitors to Thailand who are keen on reaping the benefits of the Kingdom's booming health and wellness industry sector.
Familiarization trips, organized by the office on a regular basis for Indonesian press members and travel agents, have already resulted in an increased number of family travels. This group of high-spending visitors often spends a big part of their travel budget, when traveling, on hospital treatments and health and beauty services.
According to Mrs. Juthaporn Rerngronasa, Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications, Tourism Authority of Thailand, "With a large number of overseas visitors coming to Thailand every year to receive treatments from world standard hospitals, health and wellness has become a new travel trend around the globe. TAT's marketing plans for 2009, therefore, will put a heavy emphasis on leveraging the popularity of this particular segment. With the hope of establishing Thailand as the region's preferred health and beauty destination, TAT in cooperation with the private sector will organize a series of health and beauty road shows and product presentations in ASEAN.
The hospital business in Thailand has been experiencing steady growth with many accredited hospitals like Bumrungrad, Phya Thai, Bangkok and Bangkok Nursing Home welcoming an influx of overseas patients. Lucrative medical tourism has turned these hospitals into international medical hubs and they all have been constantly improving their facilities to better serve the needs of overseas patients. This has been further supported by the government's megaproject that will also see the establishment of community medical centres nationwide. As a result, tourist will be able to receive health services wherever they go in the country.
With the Indonesian market showing strong interest in health tourism, during August 14-17, 2008 TAT invited famous Indonesian actresses to film television commercials which will be further distributed across different media. TAT hopes this celebrity marketing will help effectively spread the words about Thailand's health and wellness products and eventually draw more well-to-do Indonesians to the Kingdom.
The increasing number of visitors from Indonesia is greatly attributed to the success of marketing plans executed by the TAT office in Singapore. Thailand welcomed 230,000 visitors from the market in 2007, a 7.2% increase from the previous year. Statistics in the first four months of 2008 showed a 32% increase in the number of Indonesian tourists from the same period of last year.
Mr. Prakit Piriyakiet, Executive Director, the TAT's ASEAN, South Asia and South Pacific Region Department, believed more Indonesians can be expected due to many other factors. More flights from Thai Airways International and some other airlines will facilitate more travels. Most importantly, the recent announcement of fiscal tax waived for Indonesian passport holders, who pay approximately US$107 or 3,500 Baht every time they make an overseas trip, will be a surplus. The tax will be waived effective as from January 1, 2009, for those who has Tax ID.
"TAT expects to welcome 265,600 Indonesian tourists by this year-end, projecting an 8.06% increase", he added. In 2009, the target is 287,000. With the TAT planning to open a new office in Jakarta in 2010, it certainly looks like the Indonesian market is being given some serious attention.