BANGKOK (eTN) – The ceremony increasingly allures Hollywood’s Academy Awards with hundreds of people present at the event gathering. Far from Hollywood, however, the ceremony – organized in the vast reception hall of the 5-star Centara Grand Hotel – takes place in the heart of Bangkok, in Ratchaprasong. The eighth edition of the “Thailand Tourism Awards” coupled with the seventh edition of the “Friends of Thailand Awards” took place last Monday, September 27. The show, opened by Thailand’s Minister of Tourism, acknowledges the best players in the tourism sector from Chiang Rai in the North to Narathiwat in the deep South.
Yesterday, the Selecting Committee, which stands under the supervision of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, granted 112 awards in 5 categories and by geographical location. Of these awards, 32 ranked as “Awards of Excellency” while 80 “Awards of Outstanding Performance” were distributed.
For Suraphon Svetasreni, governor of TAT, the awards help also to further raise Thailand’s tourism quality and sense of innovation. “We are very glad to see, for example, more and more companies making a dedicated effort to provide the best quality of service but also to be more committed to protect the environment. The Selecting Committee is indeed getting increasingly sensitive to sustainability and environmental issues,” he explained.
Mr. Svetasreni is especially satisfied with the awarding of new products, especially spas. “I am pleased that spa tourism gets more awareness and helps to promote new destinations such as the province of Prachuap Khiri Khan [home to the resort city of Hua Hin] or completely new products such as the agro-eco-knowledge tourism activities from the Chokchai Farm in Nakhon Ratchasima,” he added.
TAT introduced a year ago a scheme to spa certifications overseas while spa operators are also honored at the Thailand Tourism Awards ceremony. Fourteen spa-related operators received an award in four different categories (day spa, destination spa, health spa, and hotel/resort spa). Hua Hin is indeed becoming an increasing attractive destination for people looking for a relaxing spa experience. The royal city started to gain its reputation as a haven for spa lovers some 15 years ago when Chiva-Som, a luxury spa resort, opened its doors. Many times honored with awards all around the world, Chiva-Som remains one of the most distinguished health resort in Thailand with its private beach, its lush tropical gardens, its typical Thai architecture, and its 70 treatment rooms.
Chiva-Som faces more and more competition from other famed spas in the Hua Hin area. At the Thailand Travel Awards ceremony, the Selecting Committee attributed on Monday night an Award of Outstanding Performance to the Anantara Spa Hua Hin and an Award of Excellence to the Barai, an exquisite resort inspired by ancient Asian architecture and located next to the Hyatt Regency.
TAT will continue to foster the certification of more spa operators to attract an increasing number of overseas travelers, promised Mr. Svetasreni. The tourism authority works in close cooperation with the Thai Spa Association, which groups some 265 members. In August, Thai Airways launched in cooperation with the Thai Spa Association a campaign called “Visit Thailand, Visit Thai Spa” targeting the airline’s passengers who are entitled to discount coupons at the spa service counter at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok.