The 7th Thailand Travel Mart + 2008 kicked off at
IMPACT Exhibition Centre. It’s a record-breaking year for the mart, with 436
buyers from 60 countries, representing a 25.7 percent increase over 2007.
Sellers number 429, a 17 percent increase.
In a press conference, Phornsiri Manoharn, governor of the
Tourism Authority of Thailand, outlined Thailand’s tourism objectives for
the coming year. Thailand
will heavily promote niche market travel in the belief that these markets will
be less likely to be affected by economic setbacks, including high fuel costs.
The Seven Amazing Wonders of Thailand is the marketing tag for these niche
markets. As described by Manoharn they are:
1. Thainess: people and culture
2. Treasure: heritage and history
3. Beaches: long-standing popularity of Thailand’s
beaches and resorts
4. Nature: beauty of natural wonders
5. Wellness: massage, meditation and medical tourism.
6. Trends: dining, nightlife, shopping and boutique hotels
7: Festivities: traditional festivals and special events
Opening ceremonies at the Thailand Travel Mart
accounts for .6 million visitors to Thailand,
making it the number eight country in visitor arrivals, ranking just behind the
U.K. and Australia. Malaysia tops
the list. Although Manoharn said there wouldn’t be reductions in Thailand’s marketing efforts to the U.S., its plain
that the big push is going to be elsewhere. In the coming year, Thailand will target short haul tourists from
Asia, and visitors from China, India, the Middle East and Australia.
Travel agents can expect to see a lot more attention given
to promoting Thailand’s
northeast, the Isan area. Northeastern Thailand
has a culture all its own. The region extends northwards to the MekongRiver
which divides Thailand from Laos; to the south it ends at the Dong RekCambodia. mountain
range along the border with
Although Thai Airways
operates daily flights between Bangkok and the
Isan city of Udon Thani; and several
trains leave daily from Bangkok's
Hualampong Railway station, it’s understood that additional airlinks will be
necessary to properly promote the region. I asked Manoharn if the region had
the tourism development to meet Western expectations, and she assured me that
there were sufficient hotels, including five-star properties such as the Sofitel Raja Orchid Khon Kaen, in the
city of Khon Kaen.
Although I couldn’t get a satisfying answer about how agents could take
advantage of fam trip opportunities to Isan, I’d suggest they contact their
local Thailand Tourism Authority office and make inquiries.