TAT hopes to welcome 1m Americans
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is set to tap the long-haul US market next year, hoping to entice more than 1 million US visitors a year after 900,000 came in 2016.
According to Kittipong Prapattong, director of the TAT's Los Angeles office, the number of US arrivals is expected to approach 1 million this year, driven largely by the recovering US economy and lower US unemployment.
"The TAT is feeling upbeat that US tourist arrivals will reach 1 million for the first time next year, given myriad positive factors," Mr Kittipong said.
The TAT earlier signed an agreement with Taiwanese airline Eva Air to promote long-haul tourism between Asia and North America.
"The deal will help boost air connectivity between Thailand and the US market," Mr Kittipong said. "Eva Air alone operates 92 flights a week between the US and Taiwan, which offers easy connectivity to Thailand."
Several major airlines, including All Nippon Airways, China Airlines and Singapore Airlines, also operate flights to North America.
If Thai Airways International resumes direct service to the US market, more American tourists should come to Thailand, Mr Kittipong said.
"The high-potential segments from US markets are young travellers and high-profile people such as celebrities," he said.
As part of efforts to attract young travellers, the TAT plans to work with Walt Disney Co to feature more Thai tourism offerings in Disney movies.
According to Mr Kittipong, the TAT is also scheduled to open an office in Toronto this year. The new office is expected to boost arrivals from Canada.
Thailand is now the fourth most popular destination for Canadian tourists, who enjoy visiting the islands and learning about Thai culture.
TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the agency will promote local destinations to international and domestic markets for 2018 under the theme of "Thai Local Experience".
For the domestic market, the TAT aims to promote tourism among residents earning 45,000 baht a month, female tourists and ageing travellers in the coming year, while promoting cross-regional tourism among young travellers.
For international markets, the authority hopes to stimulate tourism among first-time travellers from mature markets such as Europe, China and Australia.
Mr Yuthasak said the TAT will also promote Thai food to international tourists, family travellers, wedding guests and honeymooners.
For next year, the TAT forecasts international arrivals to grow by 8% from an estimated 35 million this year, up from 34 million in 2016 and 32.6 million in 2015.