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It will be regional tourists who first return to Thailand. But yesterday’s ruling tossing out recent elections will certainly prolong the instability yet again — with or without marketing campaigns pitching girlfriend getaways.
As part of the Tourism Authority of Thailand‘s intensive marketing plan to revive the important Hong Kong source market, TAT will target office ladies, who love to visit Thailand on weekends to have a good time with spas, detoxes, makeovers and other activities.
TAT will use Muay Thai and fashion and beauty products to attract this hot, up-and-coming traveller group.
TAT Governor Thawatchai Arunyik will lead a roadshow to Hong Kong after it removed its “black alert” travel warning on Wednesday following Thailand’s lifting of the state of emergency the day before.
The market had been severely hit by the black alert because all insurance policies were cancelled. Hong Kong arrivals plunged 60 per cent in January and 24 per cent in February.
The Hong Kong market could recover fast, Thawatchai said yesterday. Travel agents here quickly put back their advertisements for their Thailand tourism packages on the day after the lifting of the most severe travel alert.
Prior to the political turmoil, Thailand had enjoyed a boom in Hong Kong tourists. Visitors from Hong Kong spurted 23 per cent to 581,871 people last year, with spending of 19.34 billion baht (US$596 million).
Titiporn Manenate, director of TAT’s Hong Kong office, said the tourism authority hoped to lure 55,000 visitors from Hong Kong for Songkran next month, up from more than 40,000 last year.
However, the target for the whole year was set at the same as last year, as the high season during the first two months, which included Chinese New Year this year, never came.
Besides office ladies, TAT also focuses on young travellers and families.
There are 30 airlines running more than 200 direct flights per week between Thailand and Hong Kong, including AirAsia which just started a non-stop service from Chiang Mai to Hong Kong in January.
However, carriers have also opened direct flights from Hong Kong to new destinations such as Danang in Vietnam, Malaysia and Myanmar, while Japan has become a new competitor poaching some Hong Kong tourists from Thailand, TAT officials said.
Srisuda Wanapinyosak, TAT’s executive director for East Asia, said that to bring back Hong Kong travellers, TAT would emphasise social media and mobile applications more. It will also hold a Thailand Street Fair on April 5-6 at Causeway Bay, featuring Thai food and culture. It will also give away some sticky rice with mango to visitors.
Among the other tourism products that TAT will offer to Hong Kong travellers this year are marathon running, weddings, young traveller products such as local designs and culture studies, and eco-tourism, such as hiking, rice farming and palm plantation visits.
Nicholas Tse, a well-known celebrity in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China, will visit Krabi and Chiang Mai in May to shoot a “Cook Man” TV episode, in which he will flaunt his Thai cuisine cooking skills. ___