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Friday, June 21, 2024

Grab Thailand hosts the “GrabNEXT 2024” Forum

Grab Thailand hosted “GrabNEXT 2024: Driving Towards the Future of Tourism,” an annual thought-leadership forum exploring how technology and digital platforms can shape Thailand’s tourism landscape. The forum highlighted the concept of “T.R.A.V.E.L.,” which encompasses six key areas designed to impress today’s tourists and stimulate long-term economic growth. Presided over by Tourism and Sports Minister Sermsak Pongpanit, the event also featured a panel discussion titled “Journey Transformation: Accelerating Thai Tourism to New Heights.” Experts from the tourism industry, both public and private sectors, discussed the future of Thai tourism. Panelists included Nithee Seeprae, the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications; Dr. Pipat Luengnaruemitchai, Managing Director and Chief Economist of Kiatnakin Phatra Financial Group; and Plernpis Kosolutasarn, Director of Event Marketing and Tourism Associate of Bangkok Airways Public Company Limited.

Sermsak Pongpanit, Minister of Tourism and Sports, said, “Elevating Thailand to a global destination is a top priority for our ministry. Our vision extends beyond being a regional tourism hub, aligning with the government’s policy to position Thailand as an aviation hub catering to over 150 million travelers annually by 2030. Achieving these ambitious goals requires collaboration across various sectors. We appreciate Grab Thailand for organizing this forum and for their ongoing commitment to promoting Thai tourism and providing on-demand transportation services for travelers throughout the country. We look forward to partnering with more organizations to advance Thai tourism and drive the Thai economy forward.”

Worachat Luxkanalode, Country Head of Grab Thailand, stated, “Tourism promotion has been a crucial part of the government’s strategic initiatives to boost the nation’s economy under the IGNITE THAILAND vision, with one of its eight key pillars focusing on revitalizing tourism and making Thailand a global tourism hub. To support this agenda, Grab Thailand organized GrabNEXT under the theme ‘Driving Towards the Future of Tourism,’ providing a forum for discussing and advancing Thai tourism. In addition to showcasing Grab’s technological expertise and our extensive ecosystem across Southeast Asia, which enhances the seamless travel experience for tourists, we emphasized the T.R.A.V.E.L. concept. We believe this approach will attract more international visitors to Thailand, stimulate economic growth at both local and national levels, and drive the Thai tourism industry towards a more sustainable future.”

The T.R.A.V.E.L. concept, designed to elevate the tourism experience in response to today’s tourists’ behaviors, features six core elements, namely:

Technological Integration to Enhance Convenience for Tourists:
Free Independent Travelers (F.I.T.) currently represent the largest segment of international tourists in Thailand. Recognizing their needs, Grab continually innovates and improves its platform to enhance their travel experience, from trip planning to in-country travel. This includes a pre-arrival welcome screen where travelers can explore local attractions and plan their itinerary before flying to Thailand. The app offers multiple languages, including English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. It also links with partner platforms like WeChat, Booking.com, and Trip.com to ensure seamless access to Grab’s ride-hailing services. Additionally, Grab expands digital payment options to foreign tourists by integrating with Alipay and Kakao Pay.

Reliability & Safety to Boost Tourist Confidence:
Safety is a crucial factor for tourists when selecting accommodation or transportation. Grab provides peace of mind by investing in and enhancing its safety standards across three key areas, namely Safety Technology, such as the Safety Center feature, which allows users to request help in emergencies, and the recently launched Audio Protect, which enables audio recordings during rides; Safety Measures, covering stringent screening and training for driver-partners, established service standards that emphasize safety, and accident insurance coverage for both passengers and driver-partners; and Safety Campaigns, like the Safe Ride Safe Road campaign, in which Grab partnered with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to promote road safety during the Songkran Festival.

Accessibility to Major and Secondary Cities:
The growing trend of foreign tourists exploring Thailand’s secondary cities, reflected in a 38% surge in tourism revenue last year[1], presents a new opportunity. To cater to this trend and provide seamless experiences across all regions, Grab has expanded its services to cover 71 provinces in Thailand, including both major and secondary cities. Additionally, Grab has partnered with the Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited to set up passenger pickup and drop-off points for travelers at major airports, including those in Phuket, Chiang Mai, Don Mueang, and Suvarnabhumi.

Valuable Experiences through the Charm of Thai Hospitality:
Thailand’s renowned service excellence, known for its unique charm, is a significant reason why international visitors keep coming back. Acknowledging this, Grab empowers its
driver-partners to be exemplary hosts and consistently provide exceptional service through online training via the GrabAcademy programme. These trainings focus on enhancing service standards, basic communication skills in foreign languages, and safe driving practices. Furthermore, Grab enhances the travel experience with GrabCar Premium, increasingly favored by foreigners for its exclusive comfort in every ride.

Environmentally Friendly Travel:
Today’s tourists prioritize sustainability, with over 90% expressing this preference according to a survey. In alignment with the demand for high-quality and sustainable tourism, Grab has introduced environmentally-friendly options for its users. This includes the Grab EV programme, which encourages driver-partners to transition to electric vehicles while providing passengers with a greener ride choice. Additionally, Grab’s Carbon Offset feature enables users to contribute directly to environmental initiatives by donating two baht per ride or one baht per food delivery to support tree planting initiatives with Grab. The collective donations in 2023 will aid in the planting of over 150,000 trees.

Local Touch for Tourists to Indulge in Local Experience:
Translating Thai identity into soft power to attract tourists is part of a national strategy. According to a survey, 65% of tourists seek to experience local heritage and cultures[2], including festivals,local cuisine, and community products. As a platform that connects consumers with small business entrepreneurs and driver-partners, Grab aims to provide tourists with access to authentic Thai experiences through its platform. Highlighted initiatives include the launch of Grab & Go guidebooks in partnership with the Tourism Authority of Thailand to promote must-visit destinations, showcasing the culinary delights of local merchants through its GrabFood service, and providing easy access to locally produced goods via GrabMart. These efforts make it simpler for visitors to uncover Thailand’s hidden treasures.

At this event, Grab also organized a panel discussion on the topic “Journey Transformation: Accelerating Thai Tourism to New Heights,” featuring experts in the tourism industry. The panel included Mr. Nithee Seeprae, the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Deputy Governor for marketing communications, Dr. Pipat Luengnaruemitchai, Managing Director and Chief Economist of Kiatnakin Phatra Financial Group, Ms. Plernpis Kosolutasarn, Director of Event Marketing and Tourism Associate of Bangkok Airways Public Company Limited, and Ms. Maythinee Anavachkul, Director of Mobility and Operations at Grab Thailand. They shared their views and explored ways to advance Thai tourism to captivate new-generation tourists. The discussion covered four main topics: the direction and future of Thai tourism, the formulation of a safe tourism strategy, the promotion of local experiences as part of Thailand’s Soft Power, and sustainable tourism that creates a balanced approach for social, economic, and environmental factors.

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