Joint push to spur Middle Eastern market

Joint push to spur Middle Eastern market

People emerge from the arrival hall at Suvarnabhumi airport after disembarking from a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight SV846 from Jeddah via Riyadh on Feb 27, 2022. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
People emerge from the arrival hall at Suvarnabhumi airport after disembarking from a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight SV846 from Jeddah via Riyadh on Feb 27, 2022. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The Tourism and Sports Ministry and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) are expanding partnerships with airlines and online travel agencies (OTAs) to boost the number of arrivals from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.

Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the tourism and sports minister, said the roadshow to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia on May 15-16 was the first tourism event since the two countries restored diplomatic relations.

He said Thai tourism has to start promoting the Saudi market to spur travel demand, which should peak during July and August.

During the roadshow, the TAT signed a memorandum of cooperation (MoC) with Almosafer, the biggest OTA in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and in the top three in terms of market share for the Middle East and North Africa.

The agreement targets millennials as the company has a customer base of 2.5 million in this segment.

Once Saudi travellers were allowed to visit Thailand starting from March 9, search statistics for Thailand on Almosafer's website increased by 470%, before surging 1,100% this month compared with the first quarter this year.

Another MoC was signed between the TAT and Saudia, Saudi Arabia's flag carrier, to promote a global campaign and niche products such as luxury and wellness.

"The ministry discussed with the airline adding more quota to Thai Muslims for the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia and open new routes such as Saudi Arabia-Phuket," Mr Phiphat said.

Meanwhile, Thailand will also establish a halal food centre in each province to support halal tourism.

The TAT last week brought 24 local operators to participate in the Arabian Travel Market 2022 to attract high-end, family and medical tourism segments to support Thailand during the off-peak season.

Thai operators received 128 business appointments on average throughout the event, estimated to generate 1 billion baht this year.

The agency also helds talks with Dubai Police Privilege Card or Esaad Card on marketing plans to offer special discounts to bring 240,000 state officials to the country.

Moreover, the agency is preparing to roll out marketing campaigns with Qatar Airways including joint promotions from mid-May to June and global campaigns to lure long-haul tourists who visit Qatar for the World Cup 2022 to Thailand as a post-game destination.

Prior to the pandemic, the Middle East market provided 533,237 travellers to Thailand, generating 41.3 billion baht.

This was considered a high-quality market as average spending was up to 75,000 baht per person per trip, according to the TAT.

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