As more and more Indians take to international travel, especially to Far East destinations, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is expecting a higher double-digit growth in arrivals for 2011. In 2010, Thailand received 791,185 visitors from India while the estimated figure for 2011 is upwards of 885,000 visitors — an increase of 15 percent from the previous year.
Speaking to DNA, Suraphon Svetasreni, governor, TAT, said, last year Thailand registered an overall tourist arrival of 15.8 million, an increase of 12 percent from the previous year. “As far as India goes, we witnessed a healthy increase of 28 percent vis-a-vis 2009 arrivals. Thailand has seen continuous growth in Indian arrivals despite the global crisis, dollar depreciation, price hikes and internal disruptions. However, situations started improving in the last quarter of 2010 with an increase in arrival numbers. We expect the trend to continue in 2011 and are confident to cross the 1 million visitors’ mark by 2013,” he said.
Travel and tourism industry contributes anywhere between 8-10 percent to Thailand’s GDP. According to TAT officials, Indian market is very exceptional because Indians connect easily with Thailand and both nations understand each others’ cultures. Besides, what attracts Indian visitors to Thailand is the destination’s value-for-money attributes and diversity making it ideal for families, newly weds, business travel, meeting, incentive, conference and events (MICE) and free individual traveller (FIT).
Envisaging the business potential from the Indian market, TAT is aggressively working towards establishing a long-term presence in the country and has opened two full-fledged offices, in Mumbai and Delhi.
On TAT’s marketing plans in India, Svetasreni said, “We may not be among the high spenders in advertising and marketing but we are not low either. Given the strong emphasis on India we have earmarked approximately 50 million baht (about Rs7.35 crore) for the country.”
Indians visiting Thailand, according to TAT, are a good mix of leisure, MICE, top-end wealthy travellers with an average length of stay of six days and average spends in the region of 4,600 baht.
Given the close proximity (four hours flying time from Mumbai) Indians view Thailand as a good holiday destination which is why approximately 60 percent repeat their visit with family and friends, Svetasreni said.
“Thailand is very well connected by Indian carries like Jet Airways, Kingfisher and Air India. In all, there are 138 flights every week with most carries witnessing satisfactory occupancy levels. While October to March is the best time to visit Thailand Indian travellers visit the desination throughout the year,” the TAT governor said.-By Ashish K Tiwar