Bid to host travel fair fails

Bid to host travel fair fails

Negotiations to secure the rights to hold World Travel Mart (WTM) Asia in Thailand have failed, as tourism authorities could not follow strict conditions required by rights holder Reed Travel Exhibitions.

Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul last week met with Reed Travel representatives in Dubai to discuss details about organising the event.

She said her ministry and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) could not accept Reed Travel's condition that Thailand must cancel the Thailand Travel Mart (TTM), scheduled to be held at Impact Muang Thong Thani from June 3-5.

"We won't cancel the TTM to organise WTM Asia," Ms Kobkarn said.

"We want to protect the interests of Thai small and medium-sized tourism operators wanting to join the TTM."

England-based Reed Travel is the world's leading travel and tourism event organiser, with more than 20 international travel and tourism trade events in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa.

Tanes Petsuwan, the TAT's executive director for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, said it was unfortunate for Thailand, as WTM Asia was a big international tourism fair, gathering worldwide buyers and sellers and capable of boosting the image of Thai tourism.

"WTM Asia is much bigger than the TTM, but we cannot follow impractical conditions requiring us to cancel the TTM. If we did that, it would be unfair to Thai tourism SMEs," he said.

The TTM will focus on outbound tourism, and 27 TAT offices worldwide will help to bring in hundreds of media and tour agents to meet tourism operators.

"The TAT and Reed Travel have a good relationship, but we just want them to understand our standpoint. We have to bring up our SMEs," Mr Tanes said.

Thailand's tourism industry has already bounced back from prolonged political conflict.

Mr Tanes said the event, whose full title is TTM Plus Amazing Gateway to the Greater Mekong Subregion 2015, would be attractive and feature about 405 booths for 302 exhibitors from all over the world.

The TAT has set the final day of the event as Muslim Day, with the goal of announcing Thailand as a friendly destination for Muslims. Some 100 travel agents from Muslim countries plan to attend.

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