Sky's the limit for tourists with stunning views from hot-air balloons

The Thai tourism industry is booming and hot-air balloons could be used as a marketing tool to attract more visitors to certain tourist attractions.

A French operator says riding balloons will allow tourists to enjoy spectacular views and have travel experiences they never have on the ground.

Jean Christophe Brassart, CEO of Planete Balloon, a French tourism consultant specialising in ballooning and outdoor activities, said Thailand has many marvellous places and attractions for tourists to discover and the scenery will be even more beautiful if they can see it from a hot-air balloon.

He said hot-air balloons can add more value to the Thai tourism industry if operators know the right way to use them to promote tourism activities.

The company recently helped a client build a tethered balloon park in Hua Hin. Launched last month, Magic Balloon Park offers balloon services taking tourists 100 metres above Hua Hin and lets them enjoy a panoramic view of the seaside town and surrounding areas.

The Magic Balloon Park is gaining in popularity and will soon become a new attraction in Hua Hin.

A tethered balloon is easy to install and returns on investment do not take long. Moreover, the captive balloon can be used as a communications tool or a giant billboard that can be seen from a considerable distance.

"We see plenty of opportunities in the tourism business here and we are seeking partners such as the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Tourism Authority of Thailand as well as interested investors who understand the importance of the tourism business and want to promote it," Mr Brassart said.

Normally, ballooning is seen as a niche market, but it can serve tourists as a plaything in an amusement park at affordable prices, he said.

Yut Wanichanond, a consultant at Earth Wind and Fire Co, an event organiser for the tourism business, said colourful events are key to drawing a big number of tourists to new attractions.

Currently, the TAT uses many events to help promote new tourist spots, such as the Thailand International Balloon Festival and Chiang Mai Fest International Heritage as well as the Living Arts Festival near Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok.

"Many private operators have realised the importance of events as they are a good communications tool to make their properties and places famous tourist attractions," he said.

For example, the Chiang Mai International Balloon Festival 2012, which was held last November at Chiang Mai Gymkhana Club golf course, drew more than 70,000 visitors and generated 230 million baht in revenue.

"Thailand should be a sustainable tourism destination with various activities. We should have both natural and man-made attractions to draw more Thai and foreign tourists," Mr Brassart said.

About the author

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Writer: Saengwit Kewaleewongsatorn
Position: Business Reporter