Sawasdee Kha and Good Afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is indeed a pleasure for me to be here today. Thank you for inviting me once again to speak to you. It is always a pleasure to address the Skal Club whose members include the captains of the industry. I believe that it is very important for us to have a healthy, two-way dialogue that will help us work together in the face of some unprecedented global competition.
Let me first say that much has changed since the last time I spoke to you about a year ago. We have a new government in power. Oil prices are skyrocketing. Food prices are also soaring. The issue of climate change has moved to centre stage on the global agenda. We are very conscious of these issues as we hold our annual marketing meetings this week.
My presentation will be in two parts. The first part will focus on the marketing challenges and targets and the second part will discuss the increasingly important issue of management and sustainability. And here I wish to announce some new developments that must be of interest to us all. You will then understand the reason for the title of my talk.
THAI TOURISM SITUATION 2007 – 2008
Let me begin with a brief roundup of the Thai tourism situation.
In 2007, Thailand received 14.46 million international visitor arrivals (+4.65%) and revenue of 547.7 billion baht (+13.57%). Within the country, we recorded 83 million domestic trips with revenue of 380 billion baht (+4.15%).
In January – March 2008, international visitor arrivals to Thailand (by nationality) totalled 4.3 million, an increase of 13% over the same period of 2007.There has been strong growth in arrivals from all the major markets. For example: ASEAN (+21.45%), Europe (+13.21%), North East Asia (+8.47%), The Americas (+10.21%), South Asia (+12.86%), Oceania (+12.18%) and Africa (+14.10%). Only the Middle East market was down by -0.73% but we expect that to have changed substantially over this summer season.
Overall, we are happy that the foundations that underpin our travel and tourism industry continue to remain strong. Thailand enjoys a reputation as a world class tourist destination, known for its nature, culture and traditions with hospitable people and a variety of high quality, value-for-money products and services.
I am also happy to report that one of the most important changes that we made in our marketing strategies in 2007 has been an outstanding success. This is the return to the “Amazing Thailand” brand image slogan and campaign which has proved just as popular now as it did when it was originally launched in 1998-99.
You will also recall that we also analysed the changes in consumer behaviour and reclassified our inventory of products into seven clear categories in order to help us market each in a clearly focussed and segmented manner. We called them the “Seven Wonders of Amazing Thailand”. Just to refresh your memory, they are:
VISIT THAILAND YEAR 2008-2009
Since the national elections in December 2007, we now have a dynamic new Tourism Minister, Mr Weerasak Khaosurat. We are fortunate that the government continues to pay strong attention to the travel and tourism industry in recognition of its potential for creation of jobs and distribution of income nationwide. The Ministry of Tourism and Sports has launched a policy to promote Visit Thailand Year 2008-2009.
MAJOR MARKETING STRATEGIES IN 2009
In addition to the Visit Thailand Year campaign, we will be undertaking marketing campaigns that 1) will continue to stress the “value” of the Thailand brand image. We will also work to 2) expand the high-yield “quality” source markets and customer segments, 3) maintain the leisure market in the form of the large number of first-time visitors emerging from new markets like India and China, and 4) ensure that we continue to get a steady stream of repeat visitors by maintaining our competitiveness as a destination.
The 21 main markets which are targeted for intensive promotions are UK, Scandinavia, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Spain, Japan, China, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, India, USA, UAE and Australia. The new potential markets we have identified include Indonesia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.
This year, we are planning to open offices in Kunming, Shanghai and Mumbai, because both China and India are generating promising growth figures. We project that China will become our top source of visitor arrivals by the end of this decade. At the same time, India is our biggest South Asian source market, and one of our fastest growing. TAT is targeting India as a priority market in future and investing heavily in it. We are pursuing creative ways to expand our brand image in India, amongst both consumers and trade. Just last month, we hosted the popular India International Film Awards for the first time here in Bangkok.
In 2009, we are also planning to open more 6 offices in Guangzhou, Perth, Madrid, Jakarta, South Africa and Toronto.
In 2010, 4 more offices are planned in Chengdu, Prague, Kiev and Brazil.
PLANNED PROJECTS AND ACTIVITIES IN INTERNATIONAL MARKETS
Let me just give you a quick rundown of some specific marketing activities that we will be undertaking in the course of the next year.
Amazing Thailand Invitation Project (8-12 October 2008) or Mega Fam Trip Project: Next year we will organize the Thailand Invitation Mega Fam Trip for over 1,000 media and agents worldwide. They will have a chance to visit interesting tourism destinations under the seven wonders of Amazing Thailand theme. And the first group of tour operators and media from South East Asian countries will be invited to Thailand during 8-12 October 2008.
Amazing Thailand: Friends Forever (November 2008): This campaign will seek to build brand royalty and encourage repeat visitors by using value card. Card holders will be able to use it to buy products and services in their home countries as well as in Thailand. It will be launched at “World Travel Market” in London in November 2008. We also plan to introduce it later to potential target customer segments in Singapore, Philippines and Sweden.
Amazing Thailand: Romancing the Kingdom (February 2009): This campaign will be launched for honeymooners and newlyweds. It will be introduced in the Korean, Japanese and French markets.
Amazing Thailand: Learn to Love (June – August 2008): TAT will cooperate with international educational institutions in Thailand to attract more international students to Thailand especially from Japan, Korea and the UAE.
Amazing Thailand: Through the Lens (August 2008): This will be a photo contest project that will allow international visitors to share their impressions of Thai people and Thai lifestyle through their own cameras.
Next year, TAT will boost its attendance at international trade shows and Roadshows, including 76 Tradeshows and 14 Roadshows worldwide.
At this stage, allow me to extend my heartfelt thanks to all our partners in the travel and tourism industry, both in Thailand and abroad, for their cooperation and support in implementing these projects. Without the many hotels, travel agents, airlines, travel associations, public sector agencies, local administrations, credit cards, shopping centers, banks and many other partners, these projects would not be possible. Some of our partners are here in the room today, and I thank you all.
TARGET FOR 2008-2009
In 2008, we are projecting 15.48 million international visitors arrivals, up 7% over the projection for 2007, with tourism revenue projected at 600 billion baht. The domestic target in 2008 is 83 million trips, up 1.23%, and earnings of 385 billion baht.
In 2009, we are expecting of 16 million international visitor arrivals and 630 billion baht in tourism revenue. The domestic target is 87 million trips and earnings of 407 billion baht.
If all things are normal, continued growth is a foregone conclusion. All the traditional strengths of Thailand as a tourism destination are still very much in place – liberal visa policy, good accessibility, an excellent image and reputation for good products and service delivery, and good value for money. Certainly, there will be ups and downs, depending on the global situation, but the overall trend is positive and strong.
DEVELOPMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY
Now, I come to the second part of my presentation.
I think there is no doubt that the impact of climate change has become well and truly part of the globe travel and tourism agenda. Environmental crises will have a direct impact on the tourism industry since it depends entirely on natural resources as the major element in attracting tourists.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the country’s lead agency for tourism marketing, is cognizant of this issue. We are now focusing on promoting sustainable tourism like never before. One strategy is the creation of the concept of “Seven Greens” that will boost awareness of and care for the environment. All the “Seven Greens” concepts have been clearly defined to be meaningful to visitors, attractions, service providers, transportation, and tourism activities. They comprise the following:
To put these words into action, we are working on concept of a green project which we refer to as a collaborative, long-term programme of projects and events for the sustainable protection of Koh Samui's natural environment. In other words, “Samui as it used to be.” This is a 10-year programme that will boost joint efforts by the government sector, business people, tourists, and the local Samui community to restore the island's beautiful natural environment and its traditional ways of life. The effort will also include finding ways to develop and improve the quality of the tourism business, so that Samui remains an attractive tourism destination for many years to come.
Thus, the concept of “Green Island Project, Koh Samui” is designed to create a platform that will allow local people, tourists, and government offices to cooperate to fulfil their duties related to Koh Samui and its society with good intentions and a sense of responsibility.
Skalleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
Before I end, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all of you for your help and cooperation in developing Thai travel and tourism. Our job in government is only to create the opportunities, it is up to you to build upon them. I know that you all work extremely hard in this endeavor. Please rest assured that I'm always willing to listen to your opinions and constructive suggestions. My door is always open. Once more, thank you for the honour of inviting me here. It has been a real pleasure to be with you today. And I would be happy to answer a few questions.
Thank you and Sawasdee Kha!