TAT recruits Expedia through MOU

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BANGKOK, 21 September 2018: Expedia is partnering with the Tourism Authority of Thailand to push more tourists to secondary destinations in Thailand.

The online travel booking system signed what the TAT called its “first MOU with a global OTA focused on tourism marketing”.

Actual details of the MOU were sketchy, but Expedia said it would share “valuable traveller-centric data, insights and inbound travel trends with the TAT to enable the government agency to plan specific focused promotional campaigns.

Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor, Tourism Authority of Thailand and Pimpawee Nopakitgumjorn, Director of Market Management at Expedia Group during MOU announcement media briefing.

In return, Expedia gains recognition as a partner promoting travel to secondary destinations in Thailand, which should boost the recruitment of new ] member hotels and resorts beyond gateway cities for the global OTA.

TAT needs to ensure more travel content and hotel accommodation in the secondary destinations is available on OTA networks. Currently, the main destinations are covered, but there is a big tail off when travellers browse lesser-known destinations particularly in North and Northeast Thailand.

The MOU gives Expedia a channel to boost hotel and resort membership possibly appealing to small boutique accommodation and homestay owners often targeted by Airbnb and other home sharing platforms.

TAT has identified a strategy to disperse international tourists to second tier destinations to ease overcrowding at popular urban and beach destinations such as Bangkok and Phuket.

Based on the MOU, Expedia says it will offer digital skill training and workshops on its tech platform open to resorts and travel content suppliers in secondary destinations.   But to be eligible resorts will need to join ‘Expedia Partner Central’, which will boost Expedia’s penetration beyond Thailand’s main destinations.

It will also support TAT in destination marketing campaigns focusing on both primary and secondary cities linked to TAT’s in “Amazing Thailand Go Local” campaign.

TAT has identified six destinations under its “Go Local” campaign.  Sing buri and Anthong in central Thailand attract local tourists interested Chao Phraya river homestays and temple tours.  Trat and Phang Nga are emerging island and beach destinations, while Chanthaburi on the east coast can tap visitors, who use Pattaya as the gateway and Chiang Rai in the far north is an extension of a visit to gateway Chiang Mai.

But online searches show Expedia and all OTAs need to reach out to small resorts in these emerging destinations that are not travel tech savvy.

Expedia can use the connection with TAT to sell travel content to Thai travellers, who make up to 90% of all the trips to the six domestic destinations identified.

TAT says it hopes to increase tourism revenue in the six destinations by 15%, but basic reliable data on tourism earnings in provinces and even an accurate head count of domestic and international visitors is hard to come by.

Under the MOU signed with TAT Expedia will promote joint CSR campaigns to reduce pollution and protect Thailand’s natural resources by raising awareness among travellers who book through Expedia in order to reduce the use of plastic (single-used plastic) and encourage its member hotels to use alternatives packaging.

In its latest travel assessment, TAT forecasts 37.5 million international tourists this year up from 35.3 million in 2017.  2019 will see tourist arrivals rise to around 40 million.

Domestic tourist arrivals this year will reach 160 million and 169 million in 2019. Total revenue earnings from tourism in 2019 will reach THB 3.4 trillion with domestic tourism contributing THB1.2 trillion. This year domestic tourism earnings should pass the THB1 trillion mark. Overall, tourism earnings will contribute around 11% of the country’s GDP.

An interesting side note from Wikipedia on Thailand’s tourism noted that in 2015 the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand in its justification for proposing the construction for coal-fired power plants in Krabi province, South Thailand, forecast that by 2032 Thailand would welcome 100 million tourists a year with 40% of them visiting Phuket and neighbouring areas such as Krabi. It said on average a foreign tourist consumed four times more electricity than local residents.

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