The Governor’s Corner: Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor, Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, discusses what ATF 2018 means to Thailand plus the country’s dynamic tourism strategy for 2018 and beyond.
1) What does hosting ATF 2018 in Chiang Mai on the 50th anniversary of ASEAN mean to Thailand’s tourism industry?
“The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has pledged to make the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF 2018) in Chiang Mai an international and regional success story, especially the TRAVEX buyer-seller part, where millions of dollars of business are transacted annually. Obviously that is a huge volume of business and Thailand has the largest private sector representation which is poised to benefit from the exposure both from visiting buyers and the anticipated media exposure worldwide.
“There are more international and regional flights to support ATF 2018 that offer additional capacity to handle future growth as we expect hosting ATF 2018 will mean more travellers will visit Chiang Mai, the gateway to northern Thailand. Visitors can travel around Thailand or ASEAN via the many new connecting flight services available. This means ATF 2018 will positively impact Thailand’s tourism industry for years to come.”
2) And this legacy of better regional connectivity and aviation access is a big part of ATF 2018 as well?
“Yes it is. The increase in flights directly supports the ATF 2018 theme of ‘ASEAN – Sustainable Connectivity, Boundless Prosperity’. The TAT remains very proactive in promoting Chiang Mai as a regional tourism hub with several recent multi-country ASEAN familiarisation trips, linking Thailand with key commercial capitals around ASEAN to support intra-regional tourism growth. In 2017 alone Chiang Mai received an estimated 7,614 direct international flights and 567 indirect flights (via major destinations), with almost half coming from China. More are arriving in greater frequency from Hong Kong, Myanmar, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Macau and Seoul. So sustainable connectivity does promote boundless prosperity that we are keen to share with our ASEAN neighbours.”
3) What impact do you expect Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018 to have?
“This rendition of ‘Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018’ is unique in several ways. Tourism promotion and sustainable development is now front and centre on the Royal Thai Government’s national agenda. It shows that the government understands that Thailand’s tourism industry is a primary engine that drives the entire country’s economic development. The promotion will be very event focused, highlighting the many large events the Kingdom will host during 2017 and 2018, giving the country another outstanding opportunity to showcase its capabilities and world-class hospitality that is now legendary.”
4) You mentioned sustainable tourism, what role will it play as Thailand’s tourism sector continues its evolution?
“The emphasis is on inclusive tourism, based on the government’s 12th National Economic and Social Development Plan and 2nd National Tourism Development Plan that maintains a balance between the economy, environment and benefits for Thai society. Finding the balance is key to environmental protection which goes together with sustainable tourism. The ‘Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018’ promotion aims to further strengthen the Thai tourism industry while also building environment awareness among key tourism industry stakeholders nationwide. This will make it more sustainable with a focus on quality tourism that generates higher economic value for Thai citizens while also distributing tourism income to more regional areas around Thailand.”
5) Delegates are bringing their best appetites to ATF 2018. What arrangements are being made to make sure they are well fed?
“No one goes home hungry from ATF 2018! The TAT has a dedicated area called ‘Thailand Prestige’ highlighting the country’s rich culinary tradition as part of our marketing focus on Thai gastronomy tourism. We will make it our mission to make sure everyone is very well fed and experiences Chiang Mai’s outstanding cuisine that is so engrained in the region’s ‘Lanna culture’. It is a Thai local experience the TAT is very proud of and is sure to be the highlight of ATF 2018 in Chiang Mai.
ATF 2018 at a Glance
Thailand is hosting the 37th ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF 2018) between 22-26 January, 2018, at the Chiang Mai Exhibition and Convention Centre (CMECC) under the theme “ASEAN-Sustainable Connectivity, Boundless Prosperity”.
Sellers are well represented with 323 booths for 275 organisations. Thailand has the highest number of participants with 146 booths from 117 organisations/companies inclusive of the Thai pavilion; Singapore has 41 booths with over 20 companies; Malaysia with 40 booths with 24 companies and Indonesia has 31 booths representing 50 companies.
The number of buyers at ATF 2018 are 240, with 25.8% coming from around the ASEAN region; 47.1% coming from the European Union; 16.7% travelling in from the Americas; and the remaining 10.4% hailing from other Asian countries.