The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is set to boost domestic travel in the South, claiming the area still has fewer native visitors than other regions.
Nithee: Region sees fewer Thai visitors
Nithee Sriprae, the TAT's newly appointed executive director for the southern region, said the agency created a new campaign called Chippajon Long South, or Travel to the South, specifically to encourage Thais to visit the area.
"The major destinations in the southern provinces, such as Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui and Hat Yai, are more popular with international visitors," Mr Nithee said. "Many secondary provinces see less tourism."
The TAT predicts that 10 million foreign tourists will visit the southern region this year, mainly the big cities.
In a bid to boost tourism in less-popular provinces, the authority will promote various tourism products such as local food, culture and traditions to attract tourists from other regions.
The targeted provinces are Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, Trang, Ranong and Satun.
"The TAT aims to boost tourism in the South to expand by 12-15% this year, higher than targeted in other regions that are set for 10% growth," Mr Nithee said.
He said the TAT will open a new office in Satun next month to help promote attractions such as Satun Geopark, which was certified by Unesco in April this year. Satun is also a renowned province for diving and marine tourism.
TAT offices in the southern provinces will soon organise roadshows to Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen to draw tourists.
The authority is also prepared to work with airlines flying to Chiang Mai, Udon Thani and Khon Kaen that have routes to the South in launching cross-region campaigns in December and January.
Hotels chains such as Avani, Dusit, Centara and Hop Inn will join the campaign.
In Yala, hopes are high for a tourism boost after a new airport opens in late 2019.
Statistics show that tourism in the southernmost provinces has improved in recent years, despite instability in some areas.
In 2015, more than 8.7 million tourists travelled to five southern provinces (Yala, Narathiwat, Pattani, Satun and Songkhla). Of the total, 5.4 million were Thais and 3.3 million were foreigners, mostly from Southeast Asian countries.
Tourists from western countries preferred visiting natural geological sites in Satun province and famous attractions in Songkhla.