How do you market travel to Chinese tourists?
Monday, 8th September 2008
Source : The Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Thailandaims to draw overseas Chinese to the Kingdom through connections with Chinese Thais of the same family clans.

Chinese people with the same surnames around the world share the same root and once every year or couple of years, through the associations of their clans in each country, they will organize a meeting as a get-together for members of the same family names. The association of each clan in different countries will take turn hosting these meetings.

According to Santichai Euachongprasit, TAT's Deputy Governor for International Marketing, China has transformed into an eminent market for Thailand, and Thailand's Tourism and Sports Minister, Mr Weerasak Kowsurat, saw an opportunity to increase the number of Chinese visitors by working closely with Chinese-related organizations, which have close connections with their counterparts based elsewhere in Asia and other parts of the world.

TAT plans to work closely with the United Association of Chinese Clans in Thailand and major Chinese dialect associations; such as, Kwong Siew Association of Thailand, Teochew Association of Thailand, and Hakka Association of Thailand, encouraging them to volunteer to host these meeting of such sort whenever possible. TAT vowed to facilitate the organization of these meetings in terms of financial support, if necessary, and coordinate with related agencies such as the Customs Department and the Immigration Bureau.

The United Chinese Clans Association of Thailand acts as a centre facilitating activities organized by its member association of each clan, be it Lee, Wang, or Chang to name just a few. Each clan's association in Thailand often hosts these meetings with most of the participants coming from Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China, and sometimes from as far as the USA. The meeting size ranges from 500 to more than 2,000 people.

Though each meeting is not as grand as other international meetings and conventions the Thai government encourages agencies concerned, like the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, to bid for the event, as Thailand is gearing towards becoming a preferred MICE destination in Asia. It is the frequency of these meetings that makes it worthwhile for TAT to focus serious efforts on this segment.

TAT has met with representatives from these associations to seek suggestions for the best possible way to coordinate with each other. More meetings are expected and a committee or a working committee will be set up to oversee the implementation on a continual basis. The proposed committee will work out in detail the extent of the support to be extended by TAT while specific assistance for some events will be discussed on a case by case basis.

The Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA) president, Anek Srichivachart, said there are a large number of overseas Chinese and with each clan organizing a meeting once every year or every other year; it is just a question of how Thailand can attract them to come and meet here. "With around 60 clans linking Chinese Thais with their overseas clan members, if we can draw only 5 or 6 of them to meet here in Thailand, then we can say we're successful."

Representing the Thai Hotels Association (THA) at the early August meeting, Surapong Techaroovichit suggested that since most hotel owners in Thailand are Chinese Thais, organizers of clan meetings should be encouraged to select a hotel run by those in the same clan to accommodate participants. This will help them get a better room rate. Also expertise from a quality travel agent to help organize activities during the clan meeting which normally last at least two or three days will help relieve some of the burden from the organizers.

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