TAT hopeful event can woo China
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TAT hopeful event can woo China

Agency preps sales on the mainland

Tourists take photos with a sign for the Apec 2022 summit at Suvarnabhumi airport. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Tourists take photos with a sign for the Apec 2022 summit at Suvarnabhumi airport. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) says hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit is an opportunity to promote the country as a preferred tourism destination.

TAT offices in China have already kicked off sales, gearing up efforts to lure back Chinese tourists.

Yuthasak Supasorn, the TAT governor, said Thailand could impress leaders and their retinues from 21 economic zones attending Apec with a variety of tourism products.

"If we are a good host, they will eventually come back again," said Mr Yuthasak. "We hope to be able to reach our goal of 18 million foreign arrivals next year."

TAT previously organised "Super Host" workshops for 2,500 tourism operators across the country's five regions, helping them develop relevant skills and knowledge to accommodate tourists after the pandemic.

As Chinese President Xi Jinping is slated to attend the Apec summit this week, much industry focus will be on his discussions with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha about efforts to stimulate tourism, said Mr Yuthasak.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn previously told the media the ministry asked Gen Prayut to negotiate with Mr Xi on relaxing pandemic border controls, facilitating Chinese nationals travelling abroad, especially from southern provinces.

Mr Yuthasak said the recent lifting of the quarantine requirement for arrivals and the upcoming "Two Sessions" -- China's most important annual political gathering in Beijing in March -- make it likely border reopening will happen no later than March next year.

TAT has started to prepare for Chinese tourists by launching sales and promotions at five offices on the mainland, as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan, he said.

As Chinese tourists do not travel based on season, Thailand will be their top destination initially, said Mr Yuthasak.

"Whenever China opens, they will immediately come to Thailand," he said.

Last month TAT announced an inbound marketing campaign "Visiting Thailand Year 2022-2023" across all of its global offices next year in a bid to bring tourists to Thailand without regard for seasonality.

The ministry plans to request 8.7 billion baht from the cabinet later this month to stimulate tourism, a package it calls a "Booster Shot". Of the sum, 7.2 billion baht is for the fifth phase of the "Rao Tiew Duay Kan" (We Travel Together) subsidy campaign, while 1.5 billion is for TAT's marketing budget for six months.

Mr Yuthasak said the marketing budget will help boost the tourism segment after the high season in December and January as the recession and other external factors pressure sentiment. He said foreign arrivals should reach 8.5 million by the end of this month, continuing the momentum to surpass the goal of 10 million set for this year.

In the final quarter, tourists' expenditure per trip is expected to exceed 60,000 baht thanks to the extension of stays and the high season, making it likely for tourism revenue to reach the ministry's annual target of 1.28 trillion baht, said Mr Yuthasak.

In terms of stay extensions, those with regular visas can stay for 45 days, up from 30, while the visa on arrival scheme offers 30 days, up from 15.

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