After last year’s drop in tourism precipitated by the global financial crisis and domestic political disruption caused a fall in business, the latest news from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is that tourism is back on the up. Visitor numbers for the first five months of the year increased by an impressive 24.36% with a grand total of 8.2 million international visitors flocking to the country from January to the end of May.
The biggest arrivals came from areas where travel to Thailand has been well established for some time including the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. There has been a noted rise particularly in visitors from Russia. This is a trend that is expected to develop in the next few years as Russia’s economy develops and more ordinary Russians see an increase in their disposable income.
The director for advertising and public relation for TAT, Sugree Sithivanich said that the organisation was particularly looking to target first time visitors from Europe, in particular Germany, the Commonwealth of Independent States countries and the United Kingdom as experience had shown tourists from these areas were the most likely to become regular annual visitors.
Thailand also scores highly with visitors from the Asian powerhouse nations of China, India and Japan but is a popular holiday spot with people from all over the region. Thailand records a very high degree of repeat business from Asian tourists with many returning every year to enjoy Thailand’s many attractions. Asian visitors particularly enjoy the shopping opportunities Thailand offers especially in Bangkok, Phuket and the northern city of Chiang Mai.
The figures are so encouraging that TAT has revised their forecasts for 2011 up from 15.5 million to 16.8 million. Those millions are expected to generate revenues of 600 billion baht (about US$ 19.5 billion), according to the governor of the organisation, Surapol Sawetseranee.
Tourism has great benefits for Thailand providing jobs and livelihoods across all social sectors and a big knock on effect for some of the country’s other major industries. TAT is the organisation responsible for promoting tourism both to attract visitors from overseas and to encourage domestic tourism among the local population. The organization’s budget for its FY 2012 is 6 billion baht (about US$ 195 million), which is an increase of 15% over the FY 2010 budget, most of which is spent on marketing campaigns promoting Thailand as a tourist destination. The TAT’s Financial Year starts October 1st, the increased FY 2012 budget therefore available as of Oct 1st, 2011.
TAT’s international award winning ‘Amazing Thailand’ campaign runs in many of the countries where Thailand hopes to attract visitors. The campaign is characterised by advertisements in both the print media and on television and in cinemas.
However, TAT has also recognised by the enormous global growth in information technology and is using the Internet and social media to great effect. TAT’s “Amazing Thailand’ page on Facebook has a massive 200,000 fans and is growing every day. The organisation also runs regular Twitter feeds in both English and Thai. To show that the organisation is right at the cutting edge of technology recently TAT has released Thailand themed gaming application to be played on tablet computers or smartphones.
It may all be a bit avant-garde for some but TAT’s combined marketing approach appears to be paying dividends – certainly the latest figures suggest it an organisation doing an excellent job.