Booming bookings for Thailand, say operators

Agents advised to emphasise affordable luxury and temples of peace

Tour operators are reporting booming bookings for Thailand this year, showing that the political unrest a year ago has largely been forgotten. More than 16 million people will visit Thailand in 2011, according to the Thailand Tourist Authority. Almost 2 million have already visited the country – up 12% on the first two months of 2010, before the unrest took hold. Some North American operators are witnessing a 30% increase in sales of tours to Thailand and expect that to continue to rise.
Thailand‘s qualities, say operators, include strong accommodation infrastructure, good value for foreign currencies, cultural experiences, exciting cities, excellent cuisine and alluring nature. Typical itineraries often combine Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket. Thailand’s newly unveiled National Tourism Development Plan aims to make the country one of the top five destinations in Asia, improving tourism income by 5% a year until 2016.
To more effectively sell Thailand as a destination, agents are advised to focus on the luxury aspect of tourism since foreign currencies can afford quite a bit of luxury there at the moment. The Buddhist temples are key to selling Thailand as they show off the country‘s peaceful and exotic sides. Larry Kwan, president of Pacific Delight Tours, advises: “Being able to speak about (and pronounce) Buddhist sites, such as Wat Mahathat or Wat Phra That Lampang Luang will not only give your clients confidence in your knowledge of the destination, but also entice them much more than a sales pitch on Thailand’s beaches.”
Travel Market Report
[pictured: restaurant, RarinJinda Wellness Spa Resort, Chiang Mai]