Destination Thailand

Thailand

Home to vibrant culture, awe-inspiring nature and welcoming locals, Thailand is enticing travellers to its shores with its eclectic mix of delights. Natalie Hami reports.

Thailand’s tourism stakeholders have been working hard to ensure that the destination steadily increases in popularity among the world’s travellers, promoting its abundance of culture and history that is complemented by an impressive backdrop of glistening, tropical beaches.

The driving force behind this achievable goal is the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), a hardworking entity that has launched a number of campaigns highlighting key tourism niches ranging from gastronomy to medical tourism, luxury tourism, female travel and sustainability.

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Director, TAT Middle East, Pichaya Sais explained to TTG that the Authority is strongly focused on promoting the country’s unique, taste-bud tantalising cuisine: “2018 has been an incredibly exciting year for TAT so far. At the end of last year, TAT announced the launch of the Michelin Guide Bangkok 2018, which positions Thailand as a world-class dining destination, therefore food will be a huge focus for us throughout the year.”

This new focus on cuisine was also echoed by regional manager – India, Middle East and Asia, Asian Trails, Sajith Krishnan, who explained that food is an integral part of Phuket’s exciting lifestyle.

“With an abundance of fresh seafood right on its doorstep, both visitors and locals alike are perfectly positioned to enjoy the delicious ‘fruits’ of the Andaman Sea,” Krishnan said. “Whether you like your seafood grilled, baked, fried or steamed, the best place to head for culinary heaven is Phuket’s charming old town.”

Asian Trails has teamed up with luxury hotel group, Aman Resorts, to offer guests a melting pot of unique street food dining experiences, served up in some of Asia’s most exciting landmark settings.

Director of operations, Secret Retreats, Paul Walker also noted that the restaurant version of Secret Retreats, aptly named Secret Tables, will be undergoing expansion.

“The collection grew from seven restaurants last year to now 19 members. Run by some of the region’s most lauded and creative chefs, all the restaurants are dedicated to offering dishes using local and seasonal ingredients, often blending traditional recipes with contemporary preparation and presentation techniques,” he noted.

DIVERSE TARGET GROUP

Honing in on its target markets, TAT has launched a luxury project in collaboration with Emirates Airline, specifically for female travellers.

‘Open to the New Shades’ is the strapline for the campaign, which will be broadcasted across digital, online and radio platforms.

‘New Shades’ is divided into five categories: shades of Thai gastronomy, shades of Thai arts and crafts, shades of Thai culture, shades of Thai beaches and nature, and shades of a Thai way of life.

“New experiences call out to be lived – unique cuisine, exquisite art, rich culture, exotic nature, incredible beaches and an open, authentic way of life that’s uniquely Thai,” Sais noted.

Along with this development, TAT plans on focusing on promoting the destination’s medical tourism through various initiatives this year.

Commenting on Thailand’s stellar offering, Sais said: “What sets Thailand apart from other countries are factors such as the low cost of medical treatment, the high quality of treatment provided by private medical centres and the highly developed tourism industry.”

INDUSTRY EXPANSION

Last year, Thailand witnessed the record arrival of 34 million tourists to its shores, and as visitor numbers continue to increase, travel and tourism authorities are looking to accommodate these rising figures with a slew of new properties on the way.

Homegrown hospitality brand, ONYX Hospitality Group, is looking forward to a number of new hotels, following the signing of four new Shama development deals with three individual partners, according to president and CEO, ONYX Hospitality Group, Douglas Martell.

Martell noted that a highlight from the recent Shama signings is the 429-key Shama Lakeview Asoke Bangkok, following JR Kyushu’s recent acquisition of Somerset Lake Point Bangkok, operated by Ascott, and the appointment of ONYX Hospitality Group as a management service provider for the iconic property.

“As one of Bangkok and Thailand’s largest serviced apartment projects, Shama Lakeview Asoke will also be the largest Shama property by number of keys to date, the largest property in JR Kyushu’s 16-hotel portfolio and JR Kyushu’s first major property investment outside Japan,” Martell stated.

ONYX will also be opening a new 406-room OZO hotel on an adjacent site to the existing Ocean Tower of Amari Pattaya.

Meanwhile, Dusit International has introduced ASAI Hotels, a distinctive new brand designed specifically with millennials in mind. Expected to launch in Q1 of 2019, with its first hotel in Bangkok’s renowned Chatuchak Market, ASAI Hotels embraces a sustainable, community-focused concept, with each property designed to reflect the culture and heritage of its location by collaborating with local artisans.

Made up of four core pillars – Thoughtful Essentials, Common Areas, Locally Inspired and Connected Community – each hotel will boast compact rooms with key features such as high-pressure rain showers. Meanwhile, a large mixed-use area will offer a cosy and efficient work space, a leisure area and a restaurant concept curated by local chefs who champion sustainability.

Group CEO, Dusit International, Suphajee Suthumpun said: “In line with our three-pronged strategy for balance, expansion and diversification, the introduction of ASAI Hotels will add an innovative new revenue stream to our company that complements our traditional hospitality offerings and actively responds to the needs and desires of millennial-minded travellers.”

Thailand will also be welcoming InterContinental Yao Yai Resort in 2020, while in the same year, Hilton will be introducing its Hilton Garden Inn brand to Thailand, targeting independent travellers and the business segment.

NATURE VS MAN

With Thailand’s tourism industry counting success after success, the importance of preserving the delicate balance between tourist and nature becomes even more pertinent. As a result, a number of properties are already embarking on strategies to ensure sustainability.

Taking the lead is luxury management company Akaryn Hotel Group (AHG), which holds sustainable tourism close to its heart, according to its founder and managing director, Anchalika Kijkanakorn.

“From the inception of our hotel group, we found the Pure Blue Foundation to protect and preserve the places that we operate in. Over the last 15 years, we have regenerated reefs, assisted in the preservation and repopulation of sea turtles, and assisted in educating local youths and communities to appreciate the balance of nature.”

AHG has also recently announced that it is set to be the first single-use plastic free hotel group by 2020, launching its first prototype this month (May) at akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok.

Meanwhile, COMO Hotels and Resorts has been taking measures to minimise the impact that its properties have on the environment.

“At COMO, we have several initiatives in place, such as eliminating single-use plastic, minimising water consumption, reducing and managing waste and sourcing products locally where possible,” explained regional PR manager Thailand, Poo Ronjinchinnont. “Our properties in Thailand have the same principles in place and constantly improve their efforts.”

Visitors to this majestic land can want for nothing, as the destination’s determined stakeholders shape a rewarding and successful tourism product.