As the flooding situation in Thailand has stabilized and flood waters are receding, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is accelerating its efforts to ensure travellers and tour operators worldwide to understand that Thailand’s tourism sector is open for business and welcoming visitors through a recovery campaign called “Beautiful Thailand.”
Although the flood mainly affected provinces in the Central Region, it had minor impact on tourist attractions throughout Thailand. Popular destinations in the North; such as, Chiang Mai and Sukothai; in the South; such as, Phuket and Krabi; and even in the Central Region; such as, Hua Hin and Pattaya, were not affected. Central Bangkok also remained dry, as did Suvarnabhumi Airport. The World Heritage Site in Ayutthaya, the most notable tourist attraction to be flooded, is undergoing restoration but is fully accessible. It has already seen an increase in the number of foreign visitors.
“For the past several months, the TAT has been reaching out to media worldwide and tour operators to give them an accurate picture of the situation in Thailand. We made it very clear that most of Thailand’s tourist destinations were welcoming visitors, the airport was operating and inner Bangkok was dry. We also emphasized that there was really no need to avoid coming to Thailand during the high season,” said TAT Governor Suraphon Svetasreni.
“We are now focused on restoring tourist arrivals for the duration of the high season. The TAT is confident that from the year-end holiday period until March 2012, the second half of the high season, the tourism sector will have recovered. In the past, the Thai tourism sector has come back quickly when faced with similar situations. This clearly shows travellers’ preference for and loyalty to the Thailand brand,” he said.
To ensure the rapid recovery of the Thai tourism sector, the TAT is conducting a comprehensive communications and marketing campaign called “Beautiful Thailand.” It involves engaging media from key markets worldwide. Since the middle of November, TAT executives have met with the bulk of foreign media stationed in Thailand, broadcast media visiting from China, the Ukraine, Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam, and Israel, and have appeared on regional cable channels; such as, Bloomberg TV. The TAT is also planning a mega fam-trip during December that will bring over 300 travel media from overseas to see for themselves that most of Thailand’s tourism attractions and infrastructure remain intact.
The TAT’s 25 overseas offices are working directly with tour operators in their local markets to develop campaigns and promotions to restore confidence and support tourist arrivals. These initiatives include special promotions with airlines and tour operators, TV and movie production, and celebrity marketing.
According to Governor Suraphon, the most effective strategy to restore tourist confidence and build lasting momentum for the Thai tourism sector is to focus on value-added services and warm Thai hospitality, not engage in price cutting.
To help to mitigate the impact of any crises that should occur in the future, Governor Suraphon recently joined a panel discussion held by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Thailand Chapter. Other participants included Dr Seksan Narkwong, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism and Sports; and Mr Martin Craigs, Chief Executive Officer of PATA, and a large group of PATA members.
While the PATA membership commended the TAT’s global crisis communications outreach during the flood, participants at the seminar agreed that the tourism industry needs to work closer together to ensure balanced media coverage when this type of situation occurs.
“Recovering from a significant event such as this year’s flood requires the full co-ordination and co-operation of the public and private sectors. The TAT has been serving the tourism community as a bridge between the public and private sector. All of us in the tourism industry must work together to provide unified, clear messages about the real situation in Thailand to help to build confidence and show that we are open for business and visitors can enjoy their holiday here. This will help to protect the jobs of more than two million Thais working in the tourism sector,” concluded Governor Suraphon.
International Public Relations Division
Tourism Authority of Thailand
Tel: +66 (0) 2250 5500 ext. 4545-48
Fax: +66 (0) 2253 7419
Web site: www.tatnews.org