Couples urged to Thai knot

Thailand has the potential to rival world-class destinations such as the Maldives and Bali as a wedding and honeymoon destination due to its diversity of products and value-for-money prices.

Sansern Ngaorungsi, deputy governor for Asia and the South Pacific at the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said the tourism industry is now eyeing more high-quality sectors such as weddings and honeymoons, golf, eco-tourism and medical services and wellness.

It is a main strategy to reach a tourism income target of 2 trillion baht by 2015.

"Potential markets for weddings and honeymoons in Thailand are South Korea, India, China, Spain and the US," Mr Sansern said.

In Spain, Thailand is known as one of the top honeymoon destinations because it is famous for value-for-money prices and hospitality services.

A honeymoon trip in Thailand is cheaper than going to the French Riviera and offers a guarantee of impressive experiences, said Juthaporn Rerngronasa, the TAT's deputy governor for international marketing of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas.

This year, Thailand should be able to attract American honeymooners after having marketing campaigns for two years.

Mr Sansern said TAT expects about 1,000 couples from China will hold wedding ceremonies in Thailand this year.

For Koreans, Thailand is the top destination for honeymoons, and at least 100,000 Korean honeymooners head here each year.

For the month of love, February, the TAT projects more than 1,500 couples will honeymoon in Thailand.

In collaboration with Airports of Thailand and the Association of Thai Travel Agents, the TAT will offer them a fast-track immigration and customs service, with special gifts for honeymooners who register at the Amazing Thailand, Amazing Romance booth at Suvarnabhumi airport.

In 2010, the weddings and honeymoons segment accounted for 7% of the 19.23 million international tourist arrivals.

Leisure (47%), eco-tourism (36%), golf (5%) and medical services (5%) made up the rest.

The TAT targets increasing the market share of weddings and honeymoons to 8% by 2015.

Average spending per head of the honeymoon market is 10,000 baht per day, about three times higher than that of leisure tourists.

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Writer: Chadamas Chinmaneevong
Position: Reporter