In a significant stride towards sustainable and high-value tourism, the Thailand Tourism Authority (TAT) unveiled its innovative direction at the prestigious ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2024. This year’s forum, held from January 22-27 in Vientiane, Lao PDR, marked a pivotal moment for ASEAN’s tourism sector, with Thailand leading in redefining travel experiences.
The event’s highlight was the Thailand Stand, showcasing the nation’s commitment to meaningful travel. It featured an array of experiences that celebrated Thai culture and traditions and emphasized the country’s commitment to sustainable tourism goals. This move aligns seamlessly with the forum’s theme, “Quality and Responsible Tourism – Sustaining ASEAN Future,” resonating with TAT’s ongoing mission.
Ms. Thapanee Kiatphaibool, the dynamic Governor of TAT, emphasized the forum’s significance as a vital platform for ASEAN tourism promotions. She proudly noted, “The ATF, now in its 42nd year, continues to be a key event for showcasing ASEAN’s unique tourism offerings to global buyers.”
The formal opening of the Thailand Stand on January 24 was a star-studded affair, attended by distinguished guests such as H.E. Morakot Sriswasdi, the Thai Ambassador to Lao PDR, and Mr. Kitti Chaodee, Secretary to Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports. Their presence underscored the importance of this initiative in the broader context of regional tourism.
A core feature of the Thailand Stand was the emphasis on Thai massage demonstrations, a nod to the nation’s reputation as a premier health and wellness tourism destination. This focus is on showcasing Thai culture and promoting wellness and sustainability as integral parts of the travel experience.
Partnerships play a crucial role in this initiative, with key industry players like the Thailand Privilege Card, Thai Airways International, Bangkok Airways, and the Isan Tourism Industry Trade Association joining hands to enhance ASEAN intra-regional tourism and connectivity.
The year 2023 was a landmark for Thailand’s tourism, with over 28 million tourists generating a revenue of 1.2 trillion Baht. Remarkably, 35% of these tourists were from ASEAN countries. Looking ahead, TAT has set an ambitious revenue target of 3 trillion Baht for 2024, comprising 1.92 trillion Baht from international tourism and 1.08 trillion Baht from domestic tourism, with expected numbers including 35 million foreign arrivals and 200 million domestic trips.
Mr. Nithee Seeprae, TAT Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications, outlined the strategy to achieve these targets. “To maintain our leadership in sustainable and responsible tourism, we are enhancing our efforts to elevate standards and offer meaningful travel experiences rooted in Thai culture,” he stated.
The Thailand Tourism Awards and TAT’s Sustainable Tourism Goals (STGs) are at the forefront of this direction. The latest edition of the awards introduced new categories like Low-carbon and Sustainability, reaffirming the nation’s commitment to environmentally responsible tourism. Furthermore, TAT’s STGs, aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, feature a Sustainable Tourism Acceleration Rating (STAR) system certifying 497 businesses in Thailand.
TAT’s revitalized marketing strategy for 2024 focuses on attracting tourists with higher spending habits, longer stay durations and a penchant for local exploration and environmental care. This includes targeting luxury experiences, health and wellness, family-friendly holidays, and promoting secondary destinations.
ASEAN connectivity is crucial in this endeavour, as Mr Nithee pointed out. “Enhancing intra-regional transportation infrastructure is key to facilitating easier and more affordable travel, boosting our tourism industry and contributing significantly to the economy.”
In conclusion, the ATF 2024 has set a new benchmark for sustainable and high-value tourism, with Thailand at the helm. This pioneering effort by TAT elevates Thailand’s position in the global tourism landscape and sets an inspiring example for the ASEAN region.
Written by: Supporn Pholrach (Joom)