BANGKOK, 5 June 2015: Exhibitors attending Thailand’s largest B2B travel trade enjoyed a busy opening day with scheduled appointments with invited overseas buyers.
This year’s show welcomed 362 buyers from 50 countries and while not a record for the 14-year-old trade show it did reflect the positive atmosphere marked by a strong rebound in visitor arrivals in the first half of 2015 and an upbeat outlook for the second half.
Designed primarily to help Thailand’s small and medium-sized enterprises gain valuable networking opportunities, the Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM+) 2015 was attended by 374 sellers from Thailand, Lao PDR., Cambodia China, Vietnam and Myanmar. Of these 167 (46.13%) were first-time exhibitors. There were 195 (53.87%) hosted buyers who have attended previous shows.
Hotels, especially boutique properties, dominated the exhibition space, although there was good representation from niche market products and sports and adventure companies.
In her opening statement at the welcome dinner, Minister of Tourism and Sports, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, said: “The Thai tourism industry is set for a promising future thanks to increased arrivals projected from China, India and the ASEAN countries, all of which are in our immediate neighbours. Also, in the first quarter of this year, we have seen long-haul markets such as, Latin America and the US, Southern Europe, Germany and France make improvements.”
According to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the preliminary figure for Thailand‘s tourist arrivals from January to 25 May, this year, are around 11.95 million (+19%). The ministry estimates revenue at THB578 billion, but the figure is a rough benchmark as there is no adequate research mechanism to appraise spend.
In January to March 2015, Chinese tourist arrivals surged ahead as the top source of visitors with 2.03 million trips, up by 96% over the same period of 2014.
In 2015, TAT has set a target of 28 million visitors, generating around USD42 billion (THB1.4 trillion) in revenue.
TTM+ reflected the “Discover Thainess” campaign highlights such as Thai way of life experiences and hands-on Thai activities; Thai boxing, Thai massage, Thai cooking, and Thai classical dance.
In line with that campaign’s slogan, the theme of the welcome reception was “From Folk Kitchen to Royal Cuisine” which featured a variety of Thai cuisine, widely considered to be one of Thailand’s strongest selling points and a true reflection of Thainess.
The TTM+ theme, “Experience with Us”, also fits in with the “2015 Discover Thainess” campaign, reflecting the idea that travellers want to “experience” and learn something new.
On the opening day, the TTM+ included two educational forums for the foreign buyers and Thai sellers.
TripAdvisor’s destination marketing organisations, Southeast Asia Manager, Matthew Zatto outlined how the world’s largest online travel site has revolutionised the way travellers make decisions and provide feedback on their experiences.
He offered a number of tips on how exhibitors at the TTM+ could better use TripAdvisor’s extensive distribution and viewership to enhance their marketing opportunities.
Turquoise Holidays sales and marketing director UK, James Bell cited new trends in the UK’s luxury honeymoon market, noting that Thailand was a hugely popular destination for hundreds of young UK couples who get married every year. He said niche markets; such as, weddings and honeymoons held considerable promise but required the highest levels of service standards and value for money.
Also, a selection of 10 pre and post-tours have been organised to highlight the best of “Thainess” products and services. Many points are being featured for the first time at the TTM+; such as, biking tours, a home-stay experience in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ayutthaya, Street Food Tours, visit to a mask-making museum in Loei province, and much more.
Another important component of the TTM+ are the 12 “Hidden Gems”, all emerging new destinations renowned for their unique history, culture and lifestyle that tourists must not miss, especially repeat travellers.
Pavilions focused on niche-market customer segments such as, weddings and honeymoon, health and wellness, green tourism, culinary tourism, shopping, sports tourism, river cruises and yachting.
The show concludes Friday afternoon.