TAT, Expedia refresh pact

Mr Chattan (=third from left) and Mr Monod hold the MoU documents.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has renewed its agreement with Expedia Group for another year to collaborate in drawing more premium visitors and first-time travellers to Thailand.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed on Tuesday reflects that Thailand relies heavily on digital bookings to balance traffic flows during off-peak and high seasons, said Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, TAT's deputy governor of marketing for Asia and South Pacific.

"We have to work on the supply side with global players such as Expedia to adjust the traffic flow of tourism," he said.

Jean-Philippe Monod, vice-president of government and corporate affairs of Expedia Group, said it was important to introduce people to new areas of Thailand to avoid congestion at certain destinations.

Expedia and TAT entered the MoU for the first time last year aiming to promote inbound tourism, especially in second-tier cities. It also supported local operators venturing online by presenting their accommodations to international travellers.

Mr Monod said among the second-tier provinces that benefited from the collaboration are Chiang Rai, Satun, Mae Hong Son and Trat.

He said Expedia has 750 million monthly hits and the company will continue to use marketing and promotion campaigns to lure travellers to visit less-popular provinces in Thailand.

At the event yesterday, the two partners and Unesco also launched a tourism sustainability pledge with the objective to build awareness of responsible tourism for travellers and operators, especially hoteliers in terms of committing to reducing single-use plastics and encouraging the use of organic materials made by local communities.

Peter DeBrine, senior project officer of sustainable tourism for world heritage centres at Unesco, said Thailand is going to be a model for sustainability, helping to encourage everyone in the tourism supply chain to follow sustainable practices.

He said Thailand is the first country in the region to launch this project and Unesco hopes to expand the model in Southeast Asia. Mr Chattan said the pledge is meant to kick-start sustainable tourism.