As the flooding situation in Thailand has stabilised and flood waters are receding, the Tourism Authority of Thailand 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’.
Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs is not so quick to respond to the changing situation – it last updated its travel advice for Thailand on 16th November.
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 International 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 emphasised 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.”
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’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.