1 on 1 with Cholada Siddhivarn, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)

Why is India an important market for TAT?

India is currently holding the sixth position in the ranking of primary source markets for Thailand.

The preliminary statistic from January-June 2019 has shown the growth of +24 percent (970,000 visitors) in number of Indian visitors to Thailand over the same period as last year while the revenue from India market has increased +27 percent (39,300 million THB or 78,600 million INR).

India is one of our key markets which is evolving every year as the Indian travellers are now opening up to travel differently. The new age travellers are seeking adventurous and experiential modes of vacationing and Thailand as a destination can cater different arrays of activities and experiences to choose from.

India is now one of the fastest growing outbound tourism markets in the world, second only to China. The market has a lot of potential and we would definitely love to ensure year on year increase in Indians traveling to Thailand.

Alongside the existing traveller’s profile, we have recently recorded substantial increase in millennial travellers. Hence, we are emphasising on boosting the youth segment as India is set to become the youngest country in the world by 2020 where in median age will be 29 years.

Despite India being such a big market for TAT, why do you feel the need to constantly invest in regular, new India-specific ad and promotional campaigns?

Thailand is quite popular among Indians for its beaches, but it has a lot more to offer to the Indian travellers. Our campaign ‘Open to New Shades of Thailand’ which was launched in 2018, focuses on introducing new destinations and adventure driven experiences across the country.

Not a lot of travellers are aware of the fact that alongside the attractive coastline, Thailand also has mo-untainous ranges in the northern regions. We are extensively promoting off-beat places such as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Kanchanaburi etc to offer the tourists a glimpse of Thailand’s rich culture, history and natural exuberance.

Promotional campaigns, roadshows, travel agent meets, events or activities with bloggers, influencers help us to reach out to the larger audience and also helps to educate our travel partners to customise unique itineraries for their clientele as so the FIT travellers to get inspired by the new routes or destinations in Thailand.

Are there any special plans chalked out by TAT with regards to Indian travellers to Thailand?

Banking on the popularity of the destination among Indians, TAT waived off the Visa on Arrival Fee until October 2019. This move has seen a substantial increase in the arrivals from India.

TAT recently announced launched a new campaign, ‘Give Me 5’, to entice an additional 200,000 visitors from India and six ASEAN countries during the off-peak season of July-September 2019.

The campaign will target families, women and incentive groups from 19 cities in India which are served by TAT’s campaign partner airlines, Thai Airways International and Thai Smile Airways.

Visitors travelling on the partner airlines on any of their flights between now and 30 September 2019, will be eligible to receive discounts of 5-50% on a broad range of products and services along with many other privileges at the campaign’s partner retail shopping outlets.

To overcome the baggage weight restrictions, the partner airlines will give the shoppers an extra allowance of five kilogrammes per person on the return sector to their home cities.

What would you say to those who perceive Thailand as being a destination for only shopping and beaches?

As mentioned earlier, our campaign ‘Open to New Shades of Thailand’ is specifically designed to introduce the newer attractions and thereby change the perception.

We are constantly introducing novel experiences in Thailand like a walk-through stretch of vineyards in Khao Yai, trekking in Chang Rai, cycling tour in Bangkok or Mae Hong Son.

The campaign has been well received as travellers are now exposed to attractions which earlier were not known to them. We have received a lot of support from our trade partners as well, as it helps them to offer newer products to repeat travellers.