Exclusive Interview: Ms. Sukanya Sirikanjanakul – Executive Director for ASEAN, South Asia and South Pacific region, Tourism Authority of Thailand to hear about the plans to reopen and attract tourists after their official opening on June 1st.[rpi]
Hello Ms. Sukanya Sirikanjanakul, as the world is slowly turning towards the new normal, people have started travelling again. Could you please update us on the preparation Thailand has undergone to readily welcome tourists in this post-pandemic time?
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has prepared for public health safety standards with the project “Amazing Thailand Safety & Health Administration” (SHA), jointly implemented by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. Together with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Ministry of Health, government agencies and the private sector have endeavoured to strengthen hygiene and safety measures to bring peace of mind and confidence to visitors travelling to Thailand.
SHA is a standard for agencies, organisations and businesses within the tourism industry operating a management system for tourism products and services to ensure safety and hygiene standards are met to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in all aspects of tourism, including:
(1) Restaurants / diners
(2) Hotels & accommodation
(3) Tourist areas
(4) Public/private transport
(5) Travel agency
(6) Health and beauty businesses
(7) Shopping malls
(8) Sports activities for tourism purposes
(10) Souvenir shops and other shops
In addition, Thailand is also implementing a new immigration policy that focuses on the safety and accessibility of foreign tourists, meaning they must:
(1) Have a certificate of vaccination with a full dose of a Covid-19 vaccine
(2) Register for Thailand Pass
Does the Tourism Authority of Thailand have any predictions on the change of tourist behaviour after 2 years of travel restriction?
After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, tourists put public health and safety first, leading to people travelling in small groups, mainly with family members, friends or acquaintances and opting to visit more serene, natural attractions free from crowds.
In the past 2-3 years, technology has played an increasingly important role in discovering in-depth information, influencing the behaviour of tourists, especially younger tourists. Therefore, the marketing segment in tourism needs to focus on tourists’ interests through mass media and high-tech applications.
One effective method to communicate and promote tourism is to use the actual experience stories of KOLs / Influencers / Travel Bloggers to inspire and motivate tourists, especially young tourists who wish to experience and promote the beauty of the country through images and video. In addition, the application of technology makes it easier for tourists to plan their trip, find information about places to visit, compare prices, book hotels, arrange transport and scout out all the best shopping locations.
Working from home is likely to continue well beyond COVID-19, as most people have adapted to working outside the office, thus more time can be allocated to travelling. For tourism this sees the growing trend of a ‘Workation’ meaning that you can both travel and work, especially popular among young people who often thrive in this environment. Tourist attractions including workspaces equipped with office equipment and highspeed WIFI are gradually becoming more and more popular and are favoured by many tourists.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made tourists more aware of the importance of nature and the environment, helping to increase tourists’ interest in conservation, restoration, and regeneration of nature, bringing benefits to tourist attractions, as well as neighbouring communities. The model of sustainable tourism, also known as Responsible Tourism, will also become a trend favoured by the younger generation of tourists for years to come.
What are the new and outstanding features of destinations in Thailand that the Tourism Authority of Thailand wants to introduce to tourists?
In general, Thai businesses, including the tourism sector, always strive to develop and improve products and the quality of services. With the addition of new technologies, standards are also being raised, especially in terms of health and safety. All are expected to meet the demand and satisfy tourists in this new normal.
In the coming months, Thailand will aim to promote the diverse beauty of different tourist destinations in all regions of the country. By focusing on word of mouth marketing, and promoting the domestic tourism experience model all whilst focusing on traditional customs, celebrating the Thai way of life – its kindness, friendly community, and unique products iconic to each region, all so Thailand is ready to welcome guests to come and experience all it has to offer.
TAT will continue to introduce and promote tourist destinations that attract many Vietnamese tourists such as Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. The mentioned cities have a full range of tourism products and services to meet the needs of Vietnamese tourists, from entertainment, nightlife, religious tourism, culture tourism, to nature tourism and traditional customs.
In the past, the Ho Chi Minh Office for TAT, has been making continual effort to increase awareness through online and offline communication channels. Most recently, the success of ‘Fam Trip’, a program that allowed KOLs to experience tourism in the Phuket province. The trip focused on introducing attractive beach destinations and Michelin-starred cuisine, and received a wealth of positive feedback from Vietnamese tourists and the FIT group (self-sufficient travel). Currently, tour packages for the Bangkok – Pattaya / Bangkok – Ayutthaya routes are officially on sale by Tour Operator Vietnam and bookings are warmly welcomed.
Sustainable development has asserted its importance especially after the outbreak of the pandemic. Could you please share with us Thailand’s development plan to ensure economic, social and environmental sustainability in destinations?
The economic development policy using the “BCG Model” of the Government of Thailand is one of the mechanisms to promote the economy according to a six-year plan (2021-2026), including Bio Economy, Circular Economy, and Green Economy, in which tourism plays a vital role.
Therefore, TAT has built an operating strategy according to the BCG Model, contributing to the increase of revenue in tourism, from both domestic and inbound tourists. In particular, this policy aims at tourists with financial capability, especially those who have awareness of common responsibility, and are willing to spend on quality products and services. Additionally, products that come from innovation or through environmentally friendly production will have added value to maintain balance and create sustainability.
In addition, TAT also focuses on promoting responsible tourism, which is a tourism model that does not cause any impact on the environment or the community. One of the goals is carbon neutral tourism.
In order to lead Thailand to pollution-free tourism, TAT signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with government agencies and private sector organisations with the aim of improving capacity in event organisation, calling for cooperation from government, private sector, tourists, and destinations to minimise the negative impacts of climate change and reduce global warming.
Does the Tourism Authority of Thailand have any strategies to attract more Vietnamese tourists visiting or returning to Thailand?
TAT Ho Chi Minh proposed an action plan to focus on Millennials – the main target group with potential and purchasing power. TAT will introduce and promote new destinations with high safety standards to raise awareness and inspire confidence in tourists. To increase awareness about Thailand, TAT focuses on promoting cooperation with important partners including tour operators, airlines, as well as Thai businesses operating in Vietnam. At the same time, TAT utilises influential KOLs / Influencers / Travel Bloggers in reaching the targeted groups, to communicate and promote destinations.
TAT is also focusing on LGBTQ groups by proactively organising activities to promote love and form an attachment to Thailand through different mediums such as movies, TV series, music, Thai language and culture, actively encouraging travel to Thailand to participate in real experiences.
In the next few months, various campaigns and promotions, including Special Offers, suitable to the wishes of each target group, will be co-organised with travel companies, airlines and online shopping outlets, to promote tourism in Thailand.
Could you share some useful travel tips for Thailand with Wanderlust Tips Magazine readers?
After the Covid-19 pandemic, TAT cooperated with tourism industry agencies to establish public health and safety standards across the board.
Infrastructure, tourism products and services have all been upgraded and developed to bring the best experiences to visitors. For example, in Bangkok, the tram system has been upgraded and expanded with more lines, covering almost every corner of the city. Vietnamese tourists when coming to Bangkok can easily use the modern, world-class tram system to reach destinations or experience local life conveniently.
Thailand’s famous natural attractions such as Maya Bay, Phuket, have been restored to their idyllic natural state, providing exciting experiences and beautiful landscapes like never before.
Thailand has always been value for money for every tourist. The experiences that visitors have here are of endless quality and value. Thailand is always ready to welcome Vietnamese tourists with sincerity and friendship.