Thailand Travel Mart Plus 2017 Showcasing Thai Tourism
Thailand has enjoyed spectacular success as a tourism destination in recent years. In 2016 it confirmed its popularity as the most visited ASEAN destination when 32.5 million international tourists visited the country. The indications for 2017 are that tourism arrivals will greatly exceed the record 2016 levels.
I was privileged to attend the Thailand Travel Mart as a keynote speaker for the opening tourism forum along with Thailand’s impressive Tourism Minister Mrs Kobkarn Wattanvrangkul, Ms Sarah Mathews, Chair of PATA and Head of Destination Marketing Asia Pacific for TripAdvisor and Mr. Mason Florence, Chair of World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy. The event was opened by Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister, General Thanasak Patimapragorn. The Deputy Prime Minister reaffirmed the Thai governments strong political and budgetary commitment to advancing Thailand’s economically vital tourism industry.
Over 1,000 buyers and sellers from 60 counties attended the three day tourism mart which ran from June-14-16. The venue city Chiang Mai, in Thailand’s mountainous north proved to be an ideal place to showcase the best that Thailand has to offer as destination. The show itself included a comprehensive range of Thailand’s many tourism offerings from hotels, resorts, attractions, tour operators, transport providers and community tourism projects. The attendance of tourism Ministers from Thailand’s neighbouring countries Myanmar and Cambodia demonstrated that the while Thailand was the focal point of the show, cooperation with Mekong River countries was strongly in evidence.
Chiang Mai’s impressive exhibition and Convention Centre proved well able to cater to the hundreds of exhibitors and over 1,000 buyers who were treated to excellent Thai food, music, entertainment and even a fashion show.
While in Chiang Mai, I had the opportunity to experience a taste of why this destination has such strong appeal to tourists. The city of 1.8 million people is relatively low rise and unlike the traffic jams which dominate Bangkok, its easy to get around the city and surrounds by car or bus. There is an extensive variety of accommodation options from five star luxury to stylish backpacker accommodation. Chaing Mai caters to every possible taste in food. The city boasts over 4,000 years of history which can be viewed at it’s archaeological sites. A twenty minutes drive from the city will take you to magnificent temples and the high altitude palace of Thailand’s monarch with its beautiful gardens kissed by cool, breezes. Just over an hour outside Chiang Mai are forests and Thailand’s highest mountains which reach 2.500 meters above sea level. For eco-tourists the jungles and mountains of Northern Thailand remain home to many species of animals. Elephants are both protected and revered in this part of the country.
Thailand’s tourism Minister, Mrs Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul is an eloquent champion of sustainable tourism. She spoke passionately about the need to protect and preserve Thailand’s natural environment to ensure social sustainability by enhancing government support for community based and culturally authentic tourism projects.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand certainly made excellent use of the Tourism Mart to reinforce its effective promotion of Thailand as a multi-dimensional and safe tourism destination.