Thursday, July 25, 2024

Thailand adopts sustainability targets

PHUKET, 13 June 2024: Thailand’s tourism industry targets long-haul travellers, prioritising improved airline connectivity and sustainable practices. 

With long-haul markets representing a significant portion of tourist arrivals, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is implementing a two-pronged strategy to attract visitors from afar. This strategy emphasises increased flight options and responsible tourism initiatives.

At the recent Thailand Travel Mart+ (TTM+ 2024) held in Khao Lak, Phang Nga Province, international buyers from key long-haul markets could explore a wide range of Thai tourism products offered by 430 sellers across Thailand. Of the 425 participants in the business matching sessions, 25.2% were buyers from Europe, and 11.3% were from the Americas, Africa, and the Middle East.

TAT Deputy Governor for International Marketing (Europe, America, Middle East, and Africa) Siripakorn Cheawsamoot highlighted long-haul markets, saying they accounted for 28% of all international arrivals to Thailand. 

In 2023, Thailand welcomed 7,972,258 visitor arrivals from these markets. From January to June  2024, the country has already seen 4,321,519 arrivals. TAT aims to welcome 9,938,300 visitor arrivals this year and targets tourism receipts of THB769,824 million.

“Flight connectivity remains a critical component of TAT’s tourism strategy. This summer, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand reported a 28% increase in regular flights from international markets,” he explained. Several airlines are resuming and introducing new routes from long-haul markets. For example, Air Canada will operate seven weekly flights from Vancouver to Bangkok from October 2024 to May 2025. Condor, from Germany, will add four weekly flights from Frankfurt to Bangkok and four weekly flights from Frankfurt to Phuket starting September 2024. Finnair will also start flying from Helsinki to Bangkok and from Helsinki to Phuket from November 2024 to April 2025, adding approximately 20 weekly flights to Thailand.

Effective 1 July, THAI Airways International will operate seven weekly flights from Milan to Bangkok and resume its daily Oslo-Bangkok flights. AirAsia X plans to operate four European routes in the winter of 2024.

TAT has also welcomed new air services from Iberojet, which now operates a single weekly flight from Madrid to Bangkok, catering to the strong demand from the Spanish market. 

Siripakorn Cheawsamoot.

“The Spanish market is particularly strong in the summer months of June, July, and August. This new route provides easier connectivity for Spanish-speaking travellers, including those from Latin America,” Siripakorn noted.

Thailand will expand visa-free entry, allowing visitors from 93 countries to stay for up to 60 days, compared to the previous limit of 30 days. The greenlight for the longer visa-free stay deal awaits publication in the Royal Gazette. TAT is negotiating with airlines to offer long-stay airfares, which will be cheaper for tourists, with a minimum stay of 21 days or one month. Additional benefits include hotel bonus nights and value-added services for shopping and dining.

Meanwhile, another critical mission to boost arrivals from long-haul markets focuses on achieving sustainability in tourism content. 
“According to studies, many travellers are willing to pay more for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). They are happy to pay more to ensure the future safety and sustainable growth of the tourism and travel industry,” said Siripakorn.

Regarding supply, TAT’s initiatives to promote responsible travel practices include the Thailand Tourism Awards and the Sustainable Tourism Goals (STGs), which are rated with a STAR certification and CF-Hotels. Siripakorn said: “Apart from these domestic standards, we’ll need more international bodies to ensure our standards are on par with global standards.”

TAT is partnering with Tourism Cares, a US-based non-profit organisation, to enhance sustainable tourism practices in Thailand. 

They plan to host the first-ever “Tourism Care Summit” in 2025 in Thailand alongside a responsible tourism event, the “Meaningful Travel Fair.” This fair will bring together all modes of transportation, alternative energy initiatives, carbon-free hotels, and various sustainable activities.

The Meaningful Travel Fair aims to combine the benefits of sustainable tourism with the involvement of local communities, ensuring fairness and mutual benefit. The event will target domestic and international audiences and be held back-to-back with the Tourism Care Summit. This setup will allow summit participants to explore Thailand’s potential as a sustainable tourism destination.

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