Thai Tourism Minister outlines measures to balance, manage and distribute visitor numbers

Bangkok, 10 December, 2018 – Embarking upon a quality over quantity approach to future development, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports has initiated a number of measures to better balance, manage, and distribute visitor numbers and preserve the quality of tourism destinations.

Minister of Tourism and Sports H.E. Weerasak Kowsurat said, “For many years, we have focussed on the quantity of tourists. It is now time to shift to quality. This does not mean seeing tourism as a “golden goose” for the economy but rather as a means of reducing social disparities and upgrading the quality of life for the Thai people.”

In a broad-ranging statement, the Minister noted that Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles. “We are now getting 35 million tourists a year, which is half our population. If these numbers are not better balanced, managed and distributed, neither the guests nor hosts will be smiling.”

He noted that transportation improvements were under way nationwide with improved connectivity between the hub and secondary airports and a dual-track railway, which is scheduled to be completed in five years.

The Minister noted that it was important to understand what motivates visitors to choose Thailand. Although nearly all markets are growing, but customer requirements are changing, depending on demographics, time availability and budgets.

“However, what they all want is a good experience, meeting Thai people, visiting local communities and eating Thai food,” he said.

The Minister noted that the top priority is safety and security.

A number of measures have been taken to ensure the safety and security of visitors in the aftermath of the July 2018 boat accident in Phuket. In order to recoup the number of Chinese visitors, the Ministry has advocated fixing the underlying problem and communicating it strongly to the Chinese market. This means first restoring the confidence of the Chinese tourists.

The second priority is environmental protection, Minister Weerasak said.

This is the first year that the Thai government and Thai tourism private sector are working together in three areas:

  1. Ban all smoking on public beaches.
  2. No more plastic bags or foam containers to be allowed in national parks, both on land and sea.
  3. Tourists are encouraged to use “Pintos” (food containers) while travelling in national parks.

He said the 55 secondary destinations being promoted nationwide have also been divided into different categories; such as, those which receive more than 6 million tourists and less than 6 million tourists.

The Minister added, “This is the first year that we have set limits on tourists visiting some islands. We are also highly grateful to teams of volunteers who are assisting with beach cleaning operations.”

He urged tourism investors and businesspeople to “listen to the sound of nature before thinking of money. As long as you can hear the sound of nature, that is enough. We must have the courage to decide when to stop trying to bring in more numbers.”

The third priority is facilitation and connectivity, especially to the secondary cities.

To attract Chinese visitors back to Thailand, the visa fees have been waived for the period of 15 November, 2018, to 15 January, 2019.

Some laws also need to be amended, he said. For example, a travel insurance fee could be included in the visa fee. If an accident occurs, insurance should cover the medical expenses. At present, this is covered by Thai taxpayers, which should not be the case.

Various categories of insurance premiums can be created to cover everything from regular driving to risky activities; such as, diving, climbing and rafting.

He added, “I am also seeking Cabinet Resolutions to change some visa regulations. For example, citizens of 38 countries can visit Thailand several times without visas. But if they arrive overland, they can enter only twice a year. Many foreigners live in neighbouring countries close to the Thai border. Therefore, we should have a visa category to accommodate them, similar to those arriving by air.”

“Travellers who do not require a visa to enter Thailand by air, should also be able to similarly enter Thailand by land.

“Tourists traveling to the border checkpoints close to the 55 secondary cities come with a single entry visa. I have asked the Cabinet to approve a multiple-entry visa for border-crossings as well as a double-entry visa category with a six-month validity.

“A double entry visa will provide a convenient way for visitors to come for medical treatment, enroll for Thai cooking classes, attend international conferences, or enjoy sporting activities. I have proposed that the visa fee remain unchanged at 1,000 Baht.

*Featured image: A U-shaped skywalk at Pha Tak Suea Temple, Nong Khai, one of the 55 secondary cities.

Thailand to launch online E-visa service on 15 Feb 2019

Bangkok, 07 December, 2018 – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) is to launch an online E-visa application service on 15 February, 2019, starting first with the Chinese market and then expanding it in phases to other countries worldwide in 3 years.

Beijing will be the first Chinese city where the service will be available followed by other Chinese cities. Other countries to follow will be the United Kingdom on 1 March and France on 1 April.

Mr. Chatri Archjananun, Director-General of the MFA’s Department of Consular Affairs, said that in 2017, more than eight million foreign nationals applied for Thai visas. Of these, 85% were for tourist visas, mainly from China.

The online visa will automate and speed up the visa application process globally.

Applicants can fill out the electronic form at the website http://www.thaievisa.go.th and pay the visa fee via the Kasikornbank (Kbank) E-Payment system and designate a date and time to submit the passport at the local Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate.

The service can be used any time at any location via mobile and computer devices, with full assurance of maximum security of the payment gateway.

Mr. Chatree added, “The Consular Affairs Department aims to develop a full electronic signage inspection system. In the future, certain types of visas will not need to be affixed to the passport. It will be emailed, and the results will be posted to the immigration office through a jointly developed system using biometrics for verification of identity and Robotic Process Automation to check the supporting data.”

The Seasons Episode 2: The End of the Cliff

TAT Newsroom Short Documentary
The Seasons Episode 2: The End of the Cliff
Theme: Season of Romance
Duration 3 minutes
Location: Hin-Sam-Wan, Bueng Kan

EPISODE SYNOPSIS

‘Hin Sam Wan’, or the ‘Three-Whale Rock’, is located in the Phu Sing National Reserved Forest of Bueng Kan province.  Perched imposingly on the edge of a high, steep cliff, this trifurcating rock, when seen from above, resembles three whales swimming in an expanse of lush vegetation.

This place is recognised as one of Thailand’s very important geological sites. Around the site is a network of nine nature observing trails. The site also houses significant geological exhibits indicating that this area of Thailand used to be a desert some 75 million years ago.

The ‘Three-Whale Rock’ is also the most spectacular scenic point in the Phu Sing National Reserved Forest.  In early winter, particularly in November, as the sun is climbing into the sky, golden rays are cast on the vast forest below revealing a magnificent vista that extends towards Phu Wua’s forest, Bang Bat Stream, Kaeng Sadok, and as far as the mountains in Pakkading district of Lao PDR.  This breathtaking panorama reflects not only the natural fertility of the forest, but also the topographic diversity of its surroundings, inviting visitors to relish a first-hand experience with nature.

“The Seasons Episode 2: The End of the Cliff” is part of the 12- episode travel documentary series that will reveal the untold stories of the unique way of life of the Thai people and the amazing scenery of natural attractions in different regions. There are four episodes for each of the three seasons that Thailand has in a year: rainy, cool and summer.

“The Seasons” follows the TAT Newsroom’s inaugural seven-part travel documentary series, titled ‘Insight Thainess’, to promote Thai values through the country’s unique way of life. To view the previous episodes, please log on to: TAT Newsroom’s Thai Travel VDOs.

Thailand named the Best Destination in Asia-Pacific by Irish Travel Trade News Awards 2018

Bangkok, 04 December, 2018 – Thailand has been declared the Best Destination in the Asia-Pacific by the Irish Travel Trade News Awards 2018.

The 27th Irish Travel Trade Awards were presented on 23 November, 2018, in seven categories: Airlines, Destinations, Sea Transport, Land Transport, Travel Agency Services, Tour Operators, and All Companies. Thailand won the Best Destination in the Asia-Pacific award, ahead of Australia, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Thailand named the Best Destination in Asia-Pacific by Irish Travel Trade News Awards 2018

Mrs. Chiravadee Khunsub, TAT London Office Director (front row, 4th from left), and other winners at the 27th Irish Travel Trade Awards ceremony

Ireland has a small population of 6.6 million people, but a high rate of per capita travel, with 6.3 million outbound trips. The most popular destinations outside Europe are the USA, Canada and Thailand.

In 2017, Thailand received 51,168 Irish visitors, up by 1.54%, generating an estimated 3.3 billion Baht, up by 3.47%.

Although there are no direct flights from Dublin to Bangkok, the Tourism Authority of Thailand works with numerous airline partners to route visitors through London and points in Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East.

Between 22-23 November, the TAT London Office met local tourism operators to market Thailand’s niche markets; such as, family holidays, weddings and honeymoons, and health and wellness.

TAT also has an elaborate online training and educational programme for Irish travel agents to keep them updated with new products and services.

The Irish Travel Trade News has been hosting the Irish Travel Trade Awards for over 26 years. The Gala Dinner ceremony is attended by more than 350 industry leaders.

TAT opens Fukuoka Office to tap market in Southern Japan

Fukuoka, Japan, 04 December, 2018 – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has opened its office in Fukuoka.

The ceremony on 30 November, 2018, was presided over by the Minister of Tourism and Sports, H.E.  Weerasak Kowsurat together with the Thai Ambassador in Tokyo, Royal Consulate in Fukuoka, Chairman of the TAT Board, TAT Governor and executives.

TAT opens Fukuoka Office to tap market in Southern Japan

In photo, from left: Mr. Attakarn Wongchanamas, Consul General of The Royal Thai Consulate-General in Fukuoka; H.E. Bansarn Bunnag, The Thai ambassador to Japan; H.E. Weerasak Kowsurat, Minister of Tourism and Sports, Thailand; and Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand at the Fukuoka Office opening ceremony.

The new TAT Fukuoka Office is located on the 11th Floor, Hakata-Riverain-East-Site, Shimokawabatabashi, Hakataza Nishigin Building. Mrs. Roongtip Wongpatikarn Kimura has been appointed Director and Mr. Keng Chaivarin, Deputy Director.

The TAT Fukuoka office will tap the potential market from major cities in Southern Japan; such as, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Ehime, Kochi, Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki, Kagoshima and Okinawa.

Fukuoka Prefecture has the largest population on Kyushu Island. The largest city of Fukuoka is also the main business centre. Fukuoka Airport is the largest international airport in the region.

Currently, there are daily direct flights linking between Bangkok and Fukuoka, and direct flights between Bangkok – Okinawa by Peach Air, as well as charter flights between Bangkok and some provinces in Kyushu and Chūgoku.

The TAT Fukuoka office will also help to promote tourism cooperation between TAT and the Kyushu Tourism Promotion Organisation as per the Letter of Intent signed on 8 February, 2018, to promote cooperation and increase the number of visitors between Thailand and Kyushu.

The two-year agreement covers all seven provinces of Kyushu and includes activities; such as, travel exchange, public relations activities, and information dissemination to promote the image of Thailand amongst the Japanese public. The main customer segments will include first-time visitors, special interest groups, marathon runners, golfers and divers.

The agreement includes cooperation with the Japan High School Golf Association to organise fam trips for local tour operators. TAT will also focus on promoting Thailand secondary destinations with a stress on their history, culture, cuisine and natural resources.

In 2017, Thailand recorded 1.54 million travellers from Japan, generating 67.51 billion Baht, representing a year-on-year increase of 7.28% and 9.67%, respectively. Japanese tourists spend on average 5,353 Baht per day with an average length of stay of eight days. Popular Thai destinations among Japanese tourists include Bangkok, Chon Buri, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya.

In January–October 2018, Japanese visitors to Thailand totalled 1.35 million generating an estimated 58.7 billion Baht in tourism income.

In 2018, Japanese tourists to Thailand are projected to increase by 7.52% to 1,630,000 generating an estimated 73.37 billion Baht (251 billion Yen) in tourism income, up by 9.01%. In 2019, TAT is targeting 1,680,000 Japanese visitors generating an estimated 77.5 billion Baht (265 billion Yen).

Fourth “TAT Newsroom Blogger Thailand” competition starts 1 December 2018

Fourth TAT Newsroom Blogger Thailand competition Starts 1 December 2018Bangkok, 3 December 2018 The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) Newsroom kicked off its fourth annual “TAT Newsroom Blogger Thailand” competition on 1 December with two unique activities that double the chance to take home top honours.

All entries should incorporate key concepts of the TAT’s Amazing Thailand ‘Open to the New Shades’ or ‘Go Local’ marketing initiatives.

The main competition is for bloggers residing outside of Thailand and offers them a chance to win a five-day trip inclusive of airfare, accommodation and an exclusive itinerary. It is open to applicants with an established, active blog (website) plus at least one main social media account with serious engagement.

This primary competition accepts submission of photos, vlogs and blogs about Thailand, or an experienced based impression blogs, photos, vlogs about Thailand (for those who have never visited Thailand). For more details about the rules for submission for the main competition, click here.

Campaign dates for submissions are from 1 December 2018 to 31 January 2019. The six most outstanding entries will win one port to port return air ticket and an exclusive 5D/4N trip to explore Bangkok, Phuket and Phang Nga in Thailand with trip dates tentative for the last week of March 2019. For more details, click here.

The secondary competition is for bloggers residing in Thailand that offers successful applicants the chance to be invited on a three-day trip. This is also open to applicants with an established, active blog (website) plus at least one main social media account with serious engagement.

This category accepts submission of photos, videos, blogs about off the beaten track Thai destinations or unseen experiences. Tentative campaign dates are from 1 April to 31 May 2019, with trip dates proposed for July 2019.

For more information, please contact the TAT Newsroom team at [email protected].
For registration and entry submission, please visit TAT Newsroom Blogger Thailand.

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