CHIANG MAI, 15 June 2017: Thailand’s premier travel show TTM+ opened, Wednesday, welcoming a record turnout of 480 buyers from 64 countries, who will network with 354 sellers from Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region countries over the next two days.
Hosted in Chiang Mai for the second year running sellers noted a higher turnout of Chinese buyers this year reflecting the growing importance of the China outbound market for Thailand and its GMS neighbours.
Now in its 16th year, the TTM+ 2017 official tally listed buyers from Europe (182), East Asia (137), ASEAN (42), America (38), Oceania (29), the Middle East (11), and Thailand (41).
Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand General Tanasak Patimapragorn, who oversees tourism, delivered the opening remarks to a packed audience at Chiang Mai Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Welcoming an estimated 900 delegates including media the Deputy Prime Minister said the show underscores the nation’s tourism “Thailand plus One tourism policy” that endeavours to link the country to its neighbours by promoting cross border travel.
“Promotions will link Thailand with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam… there are 22 areas in Thailand we have identified where we can encourage people to travel to our neighbours,” he said.
Looking forward to the country’s 2018 tourism calendar he noted the international GP Motor Sport Championship series has added Thailand to its Asian circuit. The race will be hosted in Buri Ram, Northeast Thailand, in October 2018 and will visit Thailand annually for four years.
Plans for a “Tourism Year Thailand 2018 will be announced shortly over the next few months”, he told delegates.
He said a Tourism Year 2018 would carry on the tradition of popular Visit Thailand Year promotions hosted in 1987 and again in 1999 under the branding of ‘Amazing Thailand’.
His announcement came as a surprise. On the sidelines of opening presentations, a TAT official conceded there was a framework in place but the details still needed to be ironed out.
A Michelin Guide on Bangkok’s top restaurants will be published in early 2018, which will help the country to raise awareness for food tourism that represents 20% of the tourist spend in the country.
“Thailand has been recognised as a top destination in various international rankings notably by CNN which identified the country’s amazing variety of street food,” the Deputy Prime Minister told the audience.
Breaking with the tradition of announcing the venue of the next TTM venue at the farewell party on the last day of the show, Tanasak confirmed TTM 2018 would move to Pattaya.
TAT officials had earlier in the day speculated the show would move south, possible to Samui island, with a change in format possibly down-sizing to focus on a niche market such as weddings and honeymoons.
Officials had also commented that the downsizing option was on the table mainly due to the country hosting the ASEAN Tourism Forum in Chiang Mai, January 2018, that has a strong travel mart component. They feared there would be a duplication of international buyers.
But the Deputy Prime Minister was eminently clear on the venue of the 17th TTM; it moves to Pattaya
Thailand’s first beach resort established in late 1960s, has since grown into a major coastal town on the eastern seaboard served by Suvarnabhumi airport 100 km to the north and U-Tapao airport 30 km to the south.
TTM 2018 will most likely be hosted at the Royal Cliff Beach Resorts’ PEACH convention and exhibition hall, which is part of the hotel group’s three hotels located on a headland 3 km south of Pattaya’s main bay.
Answering questions from TTR Weekly at the close of the opening session, one high ranking TAT official said a TTM booth costs USD1,000, including two delegates. In contrast, the booth cost at the ATF Travex is pegged at around USD2,500, plus USD680 for the first delegate and USD480 for the second. That cost disparity weighed in on the decision to keep TTM as it is rather than change the format or content to differentiate it from the ATF in 2018.
“TTM has a different business model as it stands. We have positioned it for Thailand and GMS travel firms and hotels that cannot afford to attend major regional trade shows such as the ATF Travex. TTM caters to SMEs, start-ups and independent hotels and we should not digress from that model, or change the size for the sake of another show.”
A hotelier from Bangkok working for an independent hotel said: “TAT has over the years grown the show, it is now managed very professionally now and for our needs the buyers list is a better fit and it most importantly the cost structure is competitive to enable us to be here.”
TTM+ 2017 opened with 354 sellers registered from Thailand and the GMS countries.
In the first quarter of 2017, Thailand’s visitor arrivals surged to 9.2 million, while the tourist arrivals target for the entire year has been set at 34 million. In the first quarter visitors from Southeast Asia were up 18% followed by the Americas (+14%), Europe (+8%), the Middle East (+7%), ASEAN (+3%), and Africa (+2%).
This year Thailand is likely to welcome more than 34 million tourists according to the latest forecasts.
Tourism Authority of Thailand governor, Yuthasak Supasorn during the opening ceremony said TTM was “part of a wider TAT’s strategy to better balance the distribution of visitors nationwide. Although the vast majority of visitors head for Thai beach resorts along the southern and eastern coastlines, the future potential lies in the North and Northeast Thailand region, which is set to offer its connecting routes to the neighbouring countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam.”