7th Thailand Travel Mart + 2008

The 7th Thailand Travel Mart + 2008 kicked off at Bangkok’s 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.

Phornsiri Manoharn

Phornsiri Manoharn

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

thailand travel mart opening

Opening ceremonies at the Thailand Travel Mart

The U.S. 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.

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