Aware of its incredible tourism assets and its power over global adventurers, Thailand’s industry stakeholders are strategically planning their next move. Natalie Hami reports.
An incredibly unique blend of history and culture warmly welcomes visitors to Thailand. Now more than ever, tourism stakeholders are encouraging cultural immersion and are weaving one-of-a-kind experiences into their offering to tantalise tourists’ senses.
President, Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, Bernhard Bohnenberger told TTG that guests to its Six Senses Thai resorts can enjoy an introduction to Thai cuisine through classes conducted by their chefs, along with Thai boxing experiences, cultural visits to a local village and even fishing.
“We invite our guests to join in on Thai celebrations and become a part of the host community,” he said.
Meanwhile, highlighting the importance of cuisine as a staple to the overall Thai experience was marketing and communications manager, The Siam Hotel, Bangkok, Nollada Sirisamphan: “On top of temples and landmarks that are world famous, Thailand is probably best known for its food. But just going out to restaurants might not fulfil your trip here. Cooking classes are a not-to-be-missed activity. Some would even take you to experience a local market and you can cook your own dishes from the ingredients you bought.”
NEXT LEVEL TOURISM
Despite the fact that Thailand is blessed with a host of natural attributes, ranging from its glistening shores to its unforgettable temples, travel and tourism authorities are diligently working to elevate the tourism product.
In a bid to further promote tourism and enhance the Kingdom’s appeal to foreign visitors, the Royal Thai Government recently approved the extension of the visa-on-arrival fee waiver for citizens of 20 countries, up until October 31.
As a result, citizens of Andora, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China including Taiwan, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan will be exempted from the visa-on-arrival fee for the purpose of touring Thailand for no more than 15 days.
Along with improving access to the destination, both local and internationally branded properties are eagerly elevating their own products, ensuring that guests are kept on their toes with novel enhancements.
CEO, lebua Hotels and Resorts, Deepak Ohri informed TTG that the Bangkok-based luxury hotels and restaurants company has recently launched the world’s first vertical food and beverage destination.
With a promise to woo its clientele under the stars and bright city lights, lebua boasts additions such as lebua No.3, Pink Bar and Chefs Table (with more to follow). Lebua No. 3 promises a full sensory experience, a range of beverages and stunning views of Bangkok, while Pink Bar is intimate and feminine. In addition, Chefs Table is Bangkok’s first three-star Michelin chef dining experience.
“We like to create new things and be the first ones to offer this to our customers,” Ohri told TTG.
New openings are also on the horizon for Thailand’s hospitality industry, which will cater to a plethora of niches.
Deputy managing director, Santhiya Resort and Spa, Danny Sukomol revealed that the company’s fourth resort, Santhiya Phuket Natai Resort and Spa, is due to open on November 1 of this year.
Meanwhile, at Avani+ Riverside Bangkok Hotel, visitors can dine with their heads in the clouds at the freshly opened, SEEN Restaurant and Bar. It boasts unrivalled skyline views and serves up bold flavours, complemented by impressive mixology and sultry beats.
Set on expansion in a number of Asian destinations and beyond, Avani Hotels & Resorts is also enhancing Thailand’s luxury portfolio this year with the opening of Avani Sukhumvit Bangkok. And looking to a different segment, homegrown hotel management company, ONYX Hospitality Group has launched the all-new serviced apartment and co-living concept, Shama Hub in Bangkok, combining high-energy public areas with apartments that feature innovative design solutions for space-efficient floor plates, according to its president and CEO, Douglas Martell.
Plugged as smart, simple and savvy, the company’s OZO brand is also set to launch a new property this month, OZO Phuket, featuring 255 guestrooms designed for enhanced sleep and smart connectivity, along with two separate pools. It will offer guests curated destination tips by team members and much more.
With Thailand’s tourism figures ever-increasing, the threat of overtourism looms, as highlighted by the country’s Tourism Minister, Weerasak Kowsurat.
“This year we are undertaking a range of environmental initiatives in different industry and economic sectors. The over-arching theme is ‘Responsible Tourism’, designed to minimise the threat of overtourism,” he said recently in a speech at ITB Berlin 2019.
As a result, together with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, a number of campaigns have been launched in cooperation with local communities. One such initiative is making 147 national parks and marine parks throughout the country stop Styrofoam and plastic bags entering the parks. Adding to this, a number of local administration authorities are working with local convenience shops to end the use of Styrofoam containers or other items and switch to eco-friendly materials or using a lunchbox.
Successfully catering to a plethora of visitors, Thailand continues to impress travellers with its ever-developing tourism product, which indeed has a conscience.