CHIANG MAI, 8 June 2016: After being hosted in Bangkok for 14 consecutive years the 15th Thailand Travel Mart Plus Amazing Gateway to the Greater Mekong Subregion opens today in the northern city of Chiang Mai.
The annual travel mart, themed “Smile with Us” is being held, 8 to 10 June, at the Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre (CMECC).
Organised annually by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, TTM+ is Thailand’s largest annual B2B tourism and travel trade event attracting close to 900 buyers, sellers, media and tourism officials.
Expectations are high this year as the show moves to Chiang Mai to underscore the country’s second largest city role as an emerging gateway to North Thailand and its Mekong Region neighbours Laos and Myanmar.
2016 has been a bright year for Chiang Mai’s tourism, mainly due to the boom in travel from China. During peak holidays the city is packed with Chinese who make Chiang Mai their base to tour North Thailand. Some of them drive from Yunnan province through Laos to visit Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai provinces on self-drive holidays during the peak holiday weeks.
The city’s airport has seen a substantial increase in flights so far this year. Currently, 33 airlines serve its international airport offering direct flights from most major cities in ASEAN. Qatar Air will start a direct service from its Doha hub, later this year.
Over the years, TTM has gained a reputation for delivering new travel products and services from around Thailand and the Mekong Region, while providing SMEs with a vital platform to introduce themselves to international travel buyers.
This year it breaks new ground as reflected in the comments of TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn on the eve of the show.
“Chiang Mai is perfectly suited because it is the closest Thai city to our neighbours in the Greater Mekong Sub-region with a new convention centre and superb hotel facilities to accommodate all the guests.”
The TAT governor stressed that “the emergence of Myanmar as a major tourism destination, plus the improving transportation connectivity in the Greater Mekong Sub-region will further enhance the appeal of the entire area, giving buyers and media a chance to explore the many emerging new products and services.”
The trade show component of the event opens Thursday morning with 290 buyers from 51 countries and a turnout of 345 sellers many of the enterprises hoping to extend their business footprint in the international marketplace. Today is busy with presentations, and panel discussions attended by both sellers nd buyers.
This year, the show has attracted buyers from emerging source markets such as, eastern Europe, Middle East, South America and South Africa.
The exhibition floor plan features Thailand by region with a section for Mekong Region countries and specialised services related to technology and soft adventure. There are also pavilions highlighting four main niche-markets or clusters: Ecotourism and Experience Thainess; Weddings and Honeymoons; Health and Wellness, and 12 Hidden Gems (secondary destinations).
Minster of tourism and sports, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, welcomed trade delegates, this morning, with an industry presentation on sports tourism potential, Thailand’s overall performance and pointers on the way forward for the industry.
The first session this afternoon kicks off with a keynote address by former secretary general of ASEAN, Surin Pitsuwan presenting the theme “ASEAN Brand…Stronger Together”
The official TTM+ 2016 welcome reception convenes at Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre (CMECC) this evening. The mart component, with matched appointments between seller organisations and overseas travel buyers, opens 9 June and continues to late afternoon 10 June.