TAT aims to lure more Japanese visitors
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is engaging the Japanese market through a series of activities and events, hoping to draw more than 1.6 million Japanese arrivals to Thailand this year.
Kitsana Kaewtumrong, executive director for TAT's advertising and public relations department, said the agency has been participating in major events in big cities across Japan such as Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and Sapporo. It is confident joining these events will increase the number of Japanese tourists visiting Thailand.
Mr Kitsana said the TAT predicts the number of arrivals from Japan will increase from 1.5 million last year to more than 1.6 million this year.
TAT statistics show visitors from Japan have increased significantly from 1.34 million in 2012 to 1.51 million in 2013, dropping to 1.25 million in 2014 because of political conditions in Thailand.
But Japanese arrivals improved gradually to 1.34 million in 2015, then 1.41 million and 1.53 million in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
"Japan will continue to be one of most important markets for Thai tourism as they are quality tourists," Mr Kitsana said.
TAT has two offices in Japan located in Tokyo and Osaka. Both offices are working with social media platforms to encourage people in Japan to visit Thailand all year round.
This year TAT is promoting Thai gastronomy to the Japanese market, following the release of Michelin's first guide book for Thailand last year.
He said more travellers from the Japan's northern region are expected to visit Thailand this year due to increased flight capacity as Thai AirAsia X recently launched direct flights from Don Mueang Airport to Sapporo in Hokkaido prefecture.
Thai Airways International also operates on the same route, serving high demand for travel between Thailand and Sapporo.
TAT is funding 500,000 baht for a Thai team to participate in the annual International Snow Sculpture, part of Snow Festival being held in Sapporo this week.
This year, the Thai team is crafting "kai chon" or cock-fighting, being constructed by three professional ice sculptors.
One of the sculptors works at Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok while another works at Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok and the third is a freelance sculptor.
Several nations are participating in the competition, namely Australia, South Korea, Finland, Hawaii, Indonesia, Macao, Poland, the US, China, Singapore, and Thailand. The grand prize will be announced on Feb 8, 2018.
"We are confident that we will be shortlisted in the top five for this year," Mr Kitsana said.
The Snow Festival is a big venue for Thailand to promote Thai tourism to the Japanese population living in Hokkaido, which is about 5.4 million.
In 2012, there 21,712 tourists from Hokkaido travelled to Thailand.
Arrivals increased to 30,048 in 2013 but fell to 23,617 in 2014 because of political tension in Thailand.