BANGKOK, 21 February 2017: Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports will increase efforts to promote Thailand as a sports hub during the up-coming ITB Berlin, 8 to 12 March.
Tourism and sports minister, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, said sports was a priority sector that could help to promote the country on the international stage this year.
The minister first introduced a major sports tourism campaign at the Thailand Travel Mart in Chiang Mai, June 2016, when the Sports Authority of Thailand attended the event for the first time.
“Thailand can use sports tourism to attract travellers as well as encourage foreign athletes to stay longer and spend time in the country at training camps.”
The minister said: “We aim to promote Thailand as a sports hub focusing on drawing major sports bodies to host their events, while promoting year-round sport activities such as biking.”
The plan will also include positioning Thailand as a sports training destination between seasons.
The ministry, earlier this month, presented sports tourism options during a visit to Iran that included holding the first discussions on a potential MoU to work closely with Iran’s tourism department.
Thailand already hosts major events such as the Chiang Mai Marathon that attracted over 11,000 participants from 53 countries, last year, increasing 78% from 6,200 participants in 2015.
The 14th edition of Khon Kaen Marathon, held in January, attracted 36,425 participants up a massive 70%. on the previous year. It attracted 351 foreign participants from 47 countries; 49 Japanese, 40 Chinese and 22 American.
Bangkok Marathon, held earlier this month, also attracted 37,000 participants including 3,000 foreigners from 60 countries.
But many of the best events are promoted by the private sector such as the famed Phuket Laguna’s annual triathlon and marathon events. Singha Beer Corporation hosts an annual Hot Air Balloon event in Chiang Rai, while numerous, golf and cycling events are organised by private organisations.
However, the holy grail for Thailand is to bring to its shores a major motor sports events. The minister of tourism has often hinted that she hopes to break the ice with a global motor cycle event hosted in Buri Ram, Northeast Thailand , on the province’s competition grand prix circuit.
There has also been talk of the three major tourism players in ASEAN, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, jointly bidding for the soccer extravaganza, World Cup, far down track. Malaysia has already stated that it will not be part of the Formula 1 series in 2018, which would leave open a door for Thailand to make a bid to host a F1 grand prix.