Amazing Thailand: Land of Smiles lives up to its reputation at WTM
Although many parts of Thailand have been affected by floods, they are expected to recede in a few weeks, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) team have welcomed guests at this week’s World Travel Market with smiles and enthusiasm, despite the damage that the floods are causing back home.
A highlight of the Thai participation at WTM is the Amazing Thailand Bus: a traditional London double-decker, emblazoned with the Thai tourism campaign colours. It was used to transport all the Thai delegates to the ExCel Exhibition Centre on Monday. Tanes Petsuwan, TAT director (Europe) who was present to greet the Amazing Thailand Bus when it arrived at WTM, was looking forward to the grand opening of the Thailand pavilion, despite worries about his father’s house being flooded at home.
This year’s pavilion featured exotic Thai fruit carving demonstrations and a tasting area. One of the main events was when HRH Princess of Thailand, Ubolratana Rajakanya, presented the Tourism Authority of Thailand with the Green UK Travel Awards.
Mrs Juthaporn Rerngronasa, the TAT’s Deputy Governor for International Marketing, (Europe, Africa, Middle East and the Americas) said: “This is now the start of the traditional Thai tourism high season period, during which visitor arrivals play an important role for job creation and income generation.
It should be clear by now that the flooding situation will soon be over, and people will need to resume their normal lives. That’s when the support of all our worldwide travel industry friends and partners will be very important.”
Mrs Juthaporn noted that the flooding mainly affected the central provinces along the rivers including some outer parts of Bangkok, residential suburbs and industrial zones. The central part of Bangkok where tourists normally go has not been flooded other than a few locations along the Chao Phraya River during high tides. Suvarnabhumi Airport remains well protected and open. Transportation from the airport into central Bangkok is also running as normal and visitors catching connecting flights to other destinations are able to do so without any problems. Flood waters in Ayutthaya and some other central provinces are starting to subside, and tourist attractions in Ayutthaya will be operational by month’s end.
Speaking at WTM, Mrs Juthaporn said: “Thai tourism has proven to be very resilient in the past, recovering quickly when faced with difficult times. Thailand and the UK have also always enjoyed a close friendship and strong bonds. Once the flooding situation is over, TAT also hopes that more and more travellers from the UK and Ireland will visit Thailand.” She said that the Royal Thai government along with the private sector, NGOs and people from all walks of life will work closely together to recover and regain international confidence. “Big cleaning days and site restoration in major affected tourist attractions, as well as comprehensive CSR and volunteerism programmes will be launched. Both Thai and foreign tourists will be invited to participate in the restoration.
We anticipate that life will be very much back to normal within a few weeks’ time to help us proceed with the auspicious occasion of the 84th birthday of His Majesty the King. On December 5, visitors will be amazed by millions of candle lights from the Thai people both in Thailand and overseas to celebrate the birthday of our beloved King.”
She added: “The TAT is committed to ensure that the UK remains one of our top source markets from Europe. Thailand welcomed almost 635,000 UK visitors during January – September 2011 with a growth of seven per cent over last year.”
British visitors are now coming to Thailand all year around rather than mostly in the winter months, as was the case in the past. They also have a high percentage of repeat visitors. On the aviation front, there are currently 35 direct scheduled flights per week between Bangkok and London being operated by four airlines – THAI Airways International, British Airways, Qantas and Eva Airways. Other airlines also bring visitors to Thailand through other points of the UK and intermediary hubs like Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong. In January 2012, Emirates will start flying from Dublin. If you are travelling to Thailand in the near future, the key message is to be prepared. DO refer to the FAQS HERE.