Sunday, June 16, 2024

TAT Dubai targets Saudi tourism boom

BANGKOK, 10 June 2024: The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Dubai & Middle East Office highlights challenges and opportunities for Thai tourism suppliers to capture the lucrative Saudi Arabian market.

Last year, after Thailand and Saudi Arabia resumed diplomatic ties in 2022, TAT saw 180,000 tourist arrivals from the market following a series of marketing initiatives to introduce Thailand as a travel destination.

This year, TAT’s Dubai & Middle East Office introduced 12 Saudi Arabian travel buyers to Thai travel suppliers at the Thailand Travel Mart+ 2024. They were part of a delegation of 25 buyers from the Middle East market, including Oman, Bahrain, and the UAE, who came to explore Thai travel products to boost travel, especially in the upcoming travel seasons in July and August.

Saudi Arabia is seen as a promising market with an average length of stay of around 12 to 14 days and high spending, with an average of THB90,000 per person per trip, compared to the international spending average of THB50,000 per person per trip. 

Due to the family-oriented lifestyle, Middle Eastern travellers often travel in family groups with parents, children, and sometimes even nannies. With a population of over 30 million, TAT estimates 10 million are in the high purchasing power bracket.

According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand Director of the Dubai & Middle East Office, Chaiwat Tamthai, TAT aims to tap key sectors, including Gen X, 40 years old and above, who have the purchasing power and time for travel, and Generation Y, known as Millennials, who are working age and seek work-life balance.

“Bangkok, Phuket, and Pattaya are recognised among travellers from the Middle East as favourable destinations for entertainment and shopping. Joining the TTM+ 2024 in Phang-Nga Province this year is a great opportunity to showcase secondary cities, especially beach resort destinations like Khao Lak,” he said.

The market seeks luxury resorts, particularly those with pool villas. Theme parks, water parks, zoos, and aquariums could further attract Middle Eastern tourists particularly interested in family-friendly activities.

This year, TAT aims to attract 900,000 tourists from the Middle East market, including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, and Oman, excluding Israel. While the agency aims to expand its presence in the Saudi Arabian market, the primary challenge lies in the limited flight capacity, mainly operated by Middle Eastern carriers. 

In high season, there are approximately seven weekly flights to Bangkok, including direct flights from Jeddah and Jeddah via Riyadh to Bangkok. In low season, there are around three to four flights per week.

“Having airlines expand capacity is key to supporting the marketing approach. We are working closely with leading tour operators and major air carriers in the Middle East, leveraging the network these carriers offer. We are also looking for opportunities to work with new carriers, which could include Thailand as a destination. We also hope to see Thailand-based carriers operate on these routes, which would benefit joint marketing approaches,” said Chaiwat.

On 19 August, TAT will bring travel agents from the Middle East to Bangkok to attend the Middle East Trade Meeting (MTM) followed by a visit to Krabi on 21 August. Meanwhile, Thailand’s travel content providers can join a TAT roadshow to Riyadh in September 2024. Next year, the post-Arabian Travel Market 2025 Roadshow will tour Jeddah and Riyadh.

Tourism Authority of Thailand, Marketing Manager – MEA, Dubai & Middle East Office Hatsanai Chaisri added: “The Middle East market still relies heavily on bookings from travel agents, with around 50% of bookings made through them. Regular sales calls are crucial to capture this market, as the frontline staff who may not be familiar with Thai products would introduce established international brands to ensure they can meet the standard requirements. The market also tends to follow their favourite influencers, which could be an alternative product promotion approach.”

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