TAT and Expedia take ‘The Pledge’

BANGKOK, 25 October 2019: The Tourism Authority of Thailand and Expedia Group joined hands this week to sign “The Pledge that requires them to support and adopt UNESCO’s sustainable tourism goals.

UNESCO’s Pledge is part of a renewed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Expedia Group and TAT that follows on from an earlier MoU signed in September 2018.

Based on the Pledge, TAT will focus on building confidence in Thailand’s tourism brands by encouraging and promoting responsible tourism in 2020.

It underscores a commitment to conserve the marine environment and addressing marine debris issues, in particular, plastic waste in ASEAN.

TAT deputy governor for international marketing Asia and South Pacific,  Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya said sustainability is a top agenda item as TAT celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2020.

“Collaborating with Expedia Group and UNESCO will enable TAT to incentivise business stakeholders and industry players better to accelerate sustainable tourism development across the nation while supporting new travel experiences in emerging Thai destinations,” said Chattan.

“TAT is committed to protecting the environment through its “Thailand Reduce Waste” initiative, which invites visitors and tourism operators to reduce and eliminate single-use plastic that significantly creates waste in tourist destinations. It also promotes the use of organic materials that help save the earth and add value to local resources.”

Under the Pledge, all parties are committed to supporting the reduction and elimination of single-use plastic.

“The reality is that everyone needs to play their part in protecting the planet and in protecting culture, and with 1.4 billion tourists on the road last year alone, tourism has a key impact,” said  UNESCO assistant director-general for culture, Ernesto Ottone.

 “The Sustainable Tourism Pledge aims to turn words into action. This partnership with Expedia Group and the pilot initiative with Thai tourism is about taking those steps to minimise waste in the tourism sector and to promote the role of culture for sustainable development.”

 Expedia Group senior director for government and corporate affairs, Asia Ang Choo Pin added: “Everyone has a responsibility to promote sustainable tourism to help preserve beautiful travel destinations around the world. We will work with the TAT and UNESCO to inspire and promote local tourism businesses. In particular, we will collaborate closely with the hospitality sector to enhance environmental and sustainable tourism consciousness and practices across Thailand.”

Since the launch of the previous MOU, Expedia Group claims it has worked closely with TAT to drive international travel to Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son, but there are few signs on the ground that trips have increased for the two northern destinations.

On the contrary, travel took a serious dip due to smog crisis from February to May, and during the rainy season hoteliers in Chiang Rai reported soft bookings.

But Expedia Group says it grew its share of the bookings by  25% year-on-year possibly at the expense of other booking channels.

It claims that international travellers to Chiang Rai were high-value customers as they spent 10% more on daily accommodation, and about one-third of inbound travellers booked four-or five-star hotels, which is 1.5 times more likely than domestic travellers.

In this renewed MOU, Expedia Group says it will support TAT’s strategic goals.

MoU signposts

Attract high-value travellers (high spend).

Promote emerging destinations to first-time visitors.

Generate more demand during the low season

Drive inbound and domestic tourism through digital marketing campaigns.

Encourage sustainable practices in the tourism sector.

Support the development of digital innovation in Thailand’s tourism industry.

Promote traveller safety and security in Thailand.