In last month's South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange (SATTE) at the India ExpoMart in Greater Noida, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) presented its 2023 theme "Visit Thailand Year 2023: Amazing New Chapters".
Just prior to the trade show, TAT hosted a reception titled "A Million Thanks: Amazing Thailand Night Reception" in New Delhi to thank the Indian travel industry for promoting Thailand as a preferred tourist destination.
Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor, said "India is and has always been a significant and primary tourism market for Thailand. We would like to express our sincere thanks to all our industry partners in India for helping to strengthen the positive image of Thailand as a popular destination for Indian travellers."
In 2022, India was the second largest source of tourists to Thailand after Malaysia. Almost a million Indians visited Thailand last year out of a total of over 11 million foreign visitors.
As of February 7, this year, Thailand had received 2.58 million foreign visitors, of which 122,303 were from India.
India's decision to scrap COVID testing requirements for travellers arriving from Thailand from February 13 was lauded by TAT which said that it would catalyse the recovery of the tourism sector in Thailand. It subsequently revised its target for Indian arrivals up to 2 million from the earlier expected 1.4 million.
The lifting of the testing requirement was also welcomed by tourism associations in popular Thai destinations like Phuket.
ThanethTantipiriyakij, president of the Phuket Tourist Association, was quoted by The Bangkok Post as saying that the end of COVID-19 testing requirements in India happened earlier than expected and should create positive momentum for Phuket as big tour groups will return soon. He added that the testing requirement affected large tour groups from India including the MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) segment and wedding groups.
The Thai tourism authorities are keen on Indian tourists as their average length of stay in the "land of smiles" is longer than the average and they spend about USD1,000 on each trip per person. They are also very excited about the potential growth of Indian tourists due to its burgeoning wealth and the growing affluence of the middle class resulting in an increasing number travelling abroad.
Over the years, Thailand has become a very popular destination for Indians as it offered beautiful pristine beaches, nature reserves, rustic countryside and hillside towns, fascinating cities with stunning temples, delicious food, exciting nightlife, and high-quality accommodation, all at very affordable prices.
According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), citing a survey by British travel group, Thomas Cook in 2021, Thailand was among the top three most desired destinations among Indians. The other two were the UAE (Dubai and Abu Dhabi) and Maldives.
In 2019, based on Thailand's Ministry of Tourism and Sports data, almost 2 million Indians visited Thailand that year making them the third largest group of foreign nationals to visit. Just a year before, in 2018, Indians made up the sixth-largest group of foreign visitors. It is a massive jump from 2008 when 537,000 visited and Indian arrivals were ranked 11th.
To underscore its focus on the Indian tourism market, Thailand sent a strong delegation to the SATTE expo, with over 40 suppliers from the tourism industry. This was the 40th edition of the expo and Thailand's 14th time participating.
A main attraction of the Thailand presence at SATTE 2023 was the TAT's stand where visitors could enjoy fascinating demonstrations and workshops on making traditional Thai arts and crafts with Nora beading and traditional Thai potpourri.
Among the Thai companies present at the show were Thai Airways International, THAI Smile Airways, hotels, tour operators, destination management companies (DMCs), and attractions as well as the Association of Thai Travel Agents, and Phuket Tourist Association.
Among the TAT's marketing efforts at SATTE 2023 was the promotion of sports tourism. Golf tourism was in particular heavily promoted via a "City Marketing" approach. In line with this, Pattaya City had a dedicated booth at the show, showcasing the popular seaside resort's wealth of sports tourism opportunities, its many attractions, and its wide range of tourism-related business establishments.
To further strengthen the awareness of Pattaya as a golfing destination among Indian golfers, TAT and Pattaya City jointly hosted a "Golf and Exclusive Networking" activity on February 10 at Delhi Golf Club in New Delhi.
Mr. Yuthasak, TAT Governor, said "SATTE 2023 is a key marketplace for TAT and Thai tourism suppliers to meet with our overseas partners, to showcase Thailand's full reopening to tourism and to promote the kingdom's direction towards high value and sustainable tourism, including our soft-power foundations, to offer a meaningful travel experience."
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