TAT banking on Muay Thai visa

TAT banking on Muay Thai visa

More tourism promotions in the pipeline to showcase Thailand's soft power

A world record-breaking 3,660 soldiers take part in a performance of the Muay Thai wai kru ceremony, at Rajabhakti Park in Hua Hin in February last year. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
A world record-breaking 3,660 soldiers take part in a performance of the Muay Thai wai kru ceremony, at Rajabhakti Park in Hua Hin in February last year. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The Thai tourism industry is unfazed by intense competition in the soft power arena, with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) banking on the unique Muay Thai visa to attract more visitors.

Thailand has plenty to lure tourists, including its unique soft power and warm hospitality, said Nithee Sriprae, deputy governor of marketing communications.

Many people still view Thailand as a top value-for-money destination, he added.

The South Korean Culture, Sports and Tourism Ministry recently announced a plan to launch a special visa for foreigners to explore “K-culture” by registering with performing arts academies and staying for up to two years for training, aiming to cash in on the Korean Wave among international fans.

Likewise, Thailand’s national soft power committee recently announced a plan to grant a special visa for foreigners who apply for Muay Thai classes in Thailand, allowing visitors to stay for up to 90 days.

Mr Nithee said he believed all foreigners were motivated to visit Thailand by the reputation of so-called soft power products spanning five areas — film, food, festivals, fashion and fighting, which have long been promoted by the agency.

According to TAT data, tourists spend around 25% of their travel budget on souvenirs and products and 25% on food, which highlights the potential of promoting soft-power products.

The TAT this year is collecting and analysing separate data sets specifically targeting five areas of soft power expenditure.

Mr Nithee said the new visa scheme for Muay Thai students will attract more foreigners to explore new experiences.

Those who are interested in Muay Thai and have been training in the sport in their own country may opt for this visa and stay in Thailand for an extended period.

A new website, Nowmuaythai.com, is now up and running, with a full range of English-language information on tours, gyms and other activities relating to the sport.

Besides the Muay Thai visa and permanent visa-free scheme for Chinese tourists, other visa incentives are planned to help increase tourism spending and length of stay in the very near future, said Supot Wongcharatrawee, an adviser to the Minister of Tourism and Sports.

The government has developed the Nowmuaythai website as a platform for foreigners interested in the sport, to choose courses around the country.

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