The Japan Tourism Agency and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) have discussed the joint promotion of business between the two countries.

TAT governor Suraphon Svetasreni said yesterday after a meeting with Norifumi Ide, commissioner of the Japan Tourism Agency, and Kazuhiro Ito, executive director of the Japan National Tourism Organisation’s Bangkok office, that the move was expected to enhance the popularity of Japan as a destination and boost the number of Thai visitors to the country this year.

Joint promotion would also help grow the business of the many airlines operating between the two countries, he said.

At present, there are 117 direct scheduled flights weekly between Thailand and major cities in Japan.

Thai Airways International plans to increase the frequency of flights between Bangkok and Sapporo to a daily service, as well as opening new routes to Sendai and Hiroshima.

Other airlines such as Asia Atlantic Airlines and Thai AirAsia X also plan new routes between Thailand and Japan.

The increasing number of flights between the two countries will benefit visitors from both countries and facilitate the success of two-way tourism, tying in with the strategic policy of the Japanese government to narrow the gap between the number of inbound and outbound visitors.

Last year, Japanese arrivals in Thailand totalled 1,373,716, up 21.8 percent over the previous year. From January to June this year, the number was 731,241, some 17.35 percent higher, year on year.

The TAT has branch offices in Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka, which undertake a series of activities every year to ensure a steady flow of visitors to Thailand.

They participate in events such as the “JATA Travel Showcase” each September, while the recent “Thailand Roadshow” attracted 30 Thai tourism organisations in a promotion in Sapporo, Hiroshima and Nagoya during June 24-28.

The TAT also promotes Thailand in major events such as the “Sapporo Snow Festival”, the “Dontaku Festival” in Fukuoka and the “Tenjin Festival” in Osaka.

Niche Market Focus

The TAT chief said that next year, the agency would focus its promotional efforts on two niche markets: long-stay travel for elderly, and student groups and school trips.

The Japanese government is promoting inbound tourists from around the world, with a target of 10 million visitors and 20 million outbound Japanese travellers within two years.

Thailand and Japan have cooperated over tourism in the past, especially to promote the sector after disasters such as the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the flooding in Thailand later the same year.

There is, however, much more scope for tourism cooperation between the two sides, said Suraphon.

Thailand and Japan celebrated the 125th anniversary of diplomatic relations last year. Japan is Thailand’s largest trading partner, while Thailand in turn, is Japan’s sixth-largest trading partner.

In terms of investment, Japan has the largest group of investors in Thailand, with a combined value of 312 billion baht (US$10 billion), accounting for 63 percent of the foreign direct investment in the country.

There are about 7,000 Japanese companies currently operating in Thailand.

This year, the TAT expects 1.42 million Japanese visitors, generating an estimated 55.69 billion baht ($1.8 billion) in tourism revenue.

Last year, outbound Thai travellers to Japan totalled 202,015, up 5.65 percent year on year.

(c)2013 the Asia News Network (Hamburg, Germany). Distributed by MCT Information Services. 

Photo Credit: Fields in bloom in Hokkaido, Japan, a destination on the rise with Thai travelers. Wayne SH Lin / Flickr