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 December 26, 2002
Thailand Target For 2003: Tourism Capital Of Asia

 The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has announced plans to make the country the 'Tourism Capital of Asia' within three years. In a year-end press conference on December 23, TAT Governor Mrs Juthamas Siriwan said that this would be done through a major restructuring of the country's marketing programmes to make them more responsive, proactive and better targeted.

Mrs Juthamas added, "The Thai tourism industry has done better than expected because of stronger public relations activities, promotional efforts and vigorous marketing activities in all the regions. Tourism from all regions has shown growth, especially from Northeast Asia, Europe, America, South Asia and the Middle East. Only Oceania and Africa have shown declines."

The forecast for early 2003 is also positive due to ongoing activities like the NewYear festivities and the Bangkok International Film Festival. The new strategy is aimed at improving every aspect of the tourism industry, including products, standards, services and prices, in order to achieve the title of 'Tourism Capital of Asia'. Many of the product development issues will be taken over by the newly-established Ministry of Tourism and Sports, leaving TAT free to concentrate on marketing, both domestic and international.

The Thai tourism industry is facing an era of greater competition on the global stage, especially when free trade in services becomes more prevalent under the rules of the World Trade Organisation. However, the new strategy will place heavy emphasis on enhancing the Thai identity across all its manifestations, including the friendliness of the people, the uniqueness of its food, service quality, way of life, arts, culture and traditions nationwide.

While the industry is already well-positioned to attract the mass-market group-tour sector, more focus will be placed on specific campaigns highlighting 13 niche-market products that are becoming increasingly popular among global visitors.

These include city-trips, multi-city trips, adventure/environment, man-made attractions, thematic routes, medical/health care, longstay, sport, agrotourism, educational tourism and the Thailand Grand Festival of monthly theme events.

In addition to doing more promotional road shows in key markets and making more use of communications professionals in each of the target countries, TAT will also boost the targeting of its campaigns through customer relationship marketing programmes. Technology and the use of e-mail, websites and databases will play a significant role in this.

Appropriate pricing strategies would also be a critical component. While the focus will be on the high-end and quality markets, TAT will work to ensure that prices remain competitive with other products in the same markets. This will apply equally in the domestic market in which the primary targets will be young people, mature-age citizens, sports enthusiasts and the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions business.

TAT will also step up its search for new markets to broaden the sources of visitor arrivals. A new office has been opened in Stockholm and two more are coming up in India and China.

In addition, TAT will forge more global partnerships with companies and other industry sectors like agriculture, exports and fashion, both within Thailand and abroad.

At the same time, stronger efforts will be made to help local communities improve the quality of their products and service standards by emphasising environmental and cultural preservation. This will better prepare them to build their tourism industries on a long-term sustainable basis.

"We project that 2003 will be a Year of Tourism Reform across all its various sectors," Mrs. Juthamas said.