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Thailand to promote provinces amid Bangkok unrest

New TAT governor eyes opportunities to drive tourism outside the capital

Phuket's beaches could benefit from the unrest in Bangkok
Phuket’s beaches could benefit from the unrest in Bangkok

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is planning to drive more tourists to the country’s provinces amid the continuing unrest in Bangkok.

Addressing a press conference in Malaysia recently, the TAT’s recently appointed governor, Thawatchai Arunyik, said he is urging the travel trade push more business to Thailand’s regional destinations, to avoid potential disruption in the capital.

Destinations that could benefit include the key tourism destinations of Chiang Mai, Phuket, Koh Samui, Hua Hin and Pattaya, and secondary locations including Kanchanaburi, Chiang Rai, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nong Khai and Rayong.

“This is a good time for buyers to discover new destinations, especially those in the provinces bordering the Greater Mekong sub-region countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar,” Thawatchai said. “Those tour operators and travel trade buyers who take advantage of the opportunity to explore the emerging destinations will be able to reap the competitive advantage very soon.”

To enhance the identity of Thailand’s regions, the TAT said that “a new way of planning” might now be necessary to market Thailand’s various provinces more effectively.

“The feedback we received indicated that if the price was right, the buyers are willing to find ways of packaging the Thai products, as long as they could be assured of their clients’ safety and security,” Thawatchai said.

Thawatchai Arunyik
Thawatchai Arunyik

He added that while travel advisories warning against travel to Thailand remain a concern, the country still has a strong base of support from tourists and the travel trade.

“The most important thing for us is that the goodwill towards Thailand remains unaffected,” Thawatchai said. “Travel trade buyers see the evolving political situation as… temporary phenomena. There is tremendous sympathy and support for the ordinary Thai people, especially the many rank-and-file people who work in it.

“Once everything returns to normal, Thailand will back in full strength,” he concluded.

Thailand welcomed a record 26.7 million visitors in 2013, and is now targeting more than 28m arrivals in 2014. But less than a month into the year, the political protests in Bangkok are threatening to derail the country’s tourism industry once again.

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