Thailand: Niche markets, China and India will compensate for an expected slowdown of long-haul markets


BANGKOK, Thailand (eTN) – The current Thailand Travel Mart plus Amazing Gateway to the Greater Mekong stands under the threat of a slowdown from overseas markets due to the continuous rise in fuel prices.

“Long-haul markets account for 40 percent of all our international arrivals with Europe alone accounting for 25.5 percent of all our foreign visitors,” pointed out Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Pornsiri Manohar.

And despite its excellent image and a position as a good value destination, the country is likely to see stagnation –if not a slight drop- from overseas markets. “Just imagine that fuel surcharges and taxes for a family of four people represents now the value of an additional ticket from Europe to Thailand,” Asian Trails CEO Luzi Matzig said.

However, Thailand hopes to resist to the gloom and expects even to welcome this year 15.7 million travelers compared to 14.46 million in 2007 (up by 8.6 percent). “We have learned over the last decade to deal with situation crisis. We will redirect some of our marketing budget to the markets with the most potential,” added Pornsiri.

Niche markets are in, especially honeymoon, well being as well as medical tourism. TAT expects to welcome some 1.45 million travelers for medical purposes in 2008, compared to 1.2 million travelers in 2006.

“We enjoy a very strong reputation in medical tourism thanks to dedicated teams of specialists, excellent hospitals and superb medical treatments to affordable prices,” indicated Pornsiri.

TAT announced it will also concentrate its efforts into regional markets with a particular emphasis on China and India as well the Middle East. TAT even thinks of opening in a near future new offices in both Kunming and Shenzhen.