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‘Indian arrivals to Thailand should certainly surpass the 2019 figures as early as 2023’: Tanes Petsuwan, Dy Governor for International Market (Asia & South Pacific), Tourism Authority of Thailand

Tanes Petsuwan, Deputy Governor for International Market (Asia & South Pacific), Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) talks about their readiness and expectations from the India market

TAT has set a challenging yet achievable target of 500,000 Indian visitors for this year. This is based on the assumption that travel between India and Thailand will soon be back to the pre-COVID era. Thailand hopes to see a large number of Indian tourists during this summer holiday between May - June 2022. Excerpts from interview:

India has been one of the most important markets for Thailand registering year-on-year growth in the range of 25 to 30%. How is TAT positioning itself in India post pandemic?

The Indian market has always been very important for Thailand even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the fastest growing market for the year 2019 with Thailand welcoming nearly 2 million Indian travellers, reflecting a growth of 25%. Based on many surveys and as per our partners, Thailand is one of the top destinations that many Indians are looking forward to visiting as their first outbound destination post pandemic.

Since the restrictions have been gradually lifted from March 2022, TAT’s Offices in India both in New Delhi and Mumbai have started many marketing and promotional activities to showcase Thailand as a preferred and safe destination to visit. We have already had FAM trips to Thailand for agents, media, bloggers, influencers, wedding planners and golf organisers, as well as organised road shows and product update briefings in tier I & II cities.

Thailand will continue to position itself as one of the Indian’s all-time favourite destinations with easy accessibility and valuable tourism experiences that can cater to all travel desires. For the Indian market, we will focus on creating awareness and offering new tourism packages to promote Thailand as a responsible and sustainable tourism destination.

What is your expectation from the India market this year?

Our expectation from the Indian market continues to remain high. We saw a sharp increase of Indian arrivals to Thailand in April 2022, after the resumption of international scheduled flights. Moreover, from 1 May 2022, Thailand eased the entry measures to lift the pre-departure and on-arrival testing for fully vaccinated travellers. Unvaccinated travellers can avoid quarantine by providing proof of a negative PT-PCR Test result 72 hours before their departure. Therefore, we do hope to see a large number of Indian tourists during this summer holiday between May - June 2022, and we expect to welcome more Indian tourists as well as incentive groups and wedding groups by the end of this year.

With a strong positioning of Thailand in India, by when do you expect Indian arrivals to come back to the 2019 level?

We have regularly been receiving inquiries from both travel agents and travellers on travel to Thailand.  The early indications now are very positive. People have not travelled internationally for over two years and are eager to travel with huge pent-up demand for travel. Thailand has always been Indians’ favourite destination. We are confident that with the COVID situation subsiding and things returning to normal, the number of Indians travelling to Thailand should certainly surpass the 2019 figures as early as 2023.

Can you elaborate on the ‘Visit Thailand Year 2022: Amazing New Chapters” campaign?

To reboot Thai tourism, the Royal Thai Government announced the year 2022 as a new chapter for Thailand, as we celebrate the “Visit Thailand Year 2022”. Throughout the year, we will invite travellers from around the world to experience the “Amazing New Chapters” of Thailand. As such our key messages will highlight the abundance of tourism products and services in Thailand that will fulfil all desires of travelers.

This new marketing activity will emphasise Thailand’s strengths in biological diversity and cultural richness under the “Amazing New Chapters” concept. This will reiterate the good image of the Kingdom as a top tourist destination with all health and safety measures in place as the world exits the COVID-19 era. We are also focusing on putting responsible tourism into practice with all related bodies: travellers, communities, entrepreneurs, and suppliers, as well as promoting wellness tourism, and creative and cultural tourism. TAT will attempt to implement and integrate the Bio-Circular-Green Economy Model in all tourism segments, such as, health and wellness tourism, responsible tourism, and gastronomy tourism.

Our direction is to focus on travellers’ experiences. TAT will focus on using “storytelling” marketing in order to enrich tourist’s tourism experience and self-value.

You had been positioning Thailand as a golf and wedding destination in India. What new elements are you going to add to woo more Indians?

Post pandemic, we expect many travellers to visit us to indulge in health and wellness activities. The past two years have brought a new perspective, and many now seek to use their travel experiences to rejuvenate their body, mind, and even soul. This is going to lead to people travelling exclusively for health and wellness. We have world-class facilities to support these activities. Spas, massage and wellness centres/activities along with alternate therapies and the touch of Thai will now make Thailand a health and wellness destination. Responsible and sustainable tourism is another sector which we will promote to cater to the growing trend of conscious travellers.

How important is B2B going to be for TAT in the changed scenario post-COVID?

We shall continue to focus a lot on B2B activities, as they remain important for us, especially in the India market, where travel agents play an important part for travellers and many tourist segmentations. Travel agents have and will always be an important part of Thailand’s tourism. However, B2C activities can also not be ignored, and there is an increase in the trend that many tourists travel as FITs or self-organising groups when travelling. A healthy mix of both shall continue, especially now when the traveller is quite concerned about the formalities, procedures, and safety standards and wants a lot more details and information. Many have changed the travel and tourism industry during this pandemic, and it is good to reconnect with each other.

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