New Focus on Domestic Travel
Local spending could top that of foreigners.
Domestic tourism has great potential to generate more revenue than the amount foreign travellers spend in Thailand, says Thawatchai Arunyik, the new deputy governor for domestic marketing at the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
This year, the TAT has forecast 90 million local trips with revenue of 423 billion baht, compared with 14.5 million foreign tourist arrivals generating 500 billion baht. « I will make an effort to increase revenue from local tourists to at least 500 billion baht by 2012, » said Mr Thawatchai. « I strongly believe that if local tourism is stronger, the other parts of the industry will be healthier too. This will help reduce dependence on international tourists. » Before taking the position as deputy governor for domestic marketing, Mr Thawatchai was the TAT’s executive director for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. With many years of experience overseas, he believes that domestic tourism has the potential to grow like international tourism does, particularly in terms of revenues.
Next year, Mr Thawatchai plans two big campaigns, one of them in collaboration with mobile phone operators and the private sector. The other, « Follow the Steps of His Majesty the King », will be staged to celebrate the 12th cycle (84th) birthday of His Majesty. It will be based on the existing Pid Thong Lang Pra project.
The first promotion will encourage local tourists to register with a central agency. They can receive cash back from their local trips and spend it at participating hotels and restaurants.
« We believe the project will help solve the problem of expensive costs of local accommodations and travel, » he said. « This is because the more the members spend, the more cash they will receive in return. The project will be launched within the first half of next year. »
Many operators including hoteliers in Phuket, Pattaya and Koh Samui have expressed willingness to join the project, which will reach a wider target group.
For the project paying tribute to His Majesty, the TAT will join with local governments in encouraging local travellers to heed His Majesty’s tourism guidelines as citizens and conserve the environment while travelling.
As well, the TAT plans to promote travel by bus, which will help reduce energy consumption if more people leave their cars at home. It will also shift to promote more tourist attractions in provinces that do not receive a lot of visitors.