CHENNAI: Thailand, with a recently ended coup and political difficulties, is seeking to re-entice one of their most important revenue contributors - tourists. And those from Chennai are right in the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s cross hairs.
The reason is that Chennai is at the bottom end of originating city list for India tourists - only 7.7% of Thailand’s Indian tourists come from the Southern city - primarily because of the perception of Thailand as a party destination. But TAT’s officials who were in Chennai on Tuesday said that a large number of tourists come to the country for everything from weddings and shopping to all women holidays. “We feel that this could be a major way to attract Chennai’s holidaying crowd,” they said. The challenges in doing so arise in the poor connectivity that Chennai has to Thailand compared to India’s other cities - only three flights fly out of the city to Thailand according to TAT. “But we feel there is huge potential here,” they said.
As for India as a whole, Thailand saw nearly 1 million Indian tourists travel to Thailand in 2013. The number fell significantly, by almost 10% last year due to the political upheavals the country went through. However TAT expects the numbers to rise this year, at least to pre-coup levels. Numbers are projected to grow at 15% in the first five months of this year and reach a 10% overall growth figure compared to last year. “We think it will come back to 1 million Indian tourists in 2015. The next year, we are targeting 1.2 million Indian arrivals to Thailand,”said Soraya Homchuen, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Thailand is looking to attract new tourists by promoting more destinations, apart from the traditional holidaying spots like Bangkok and Pattaya. “There are many many more places to see in Thailand, like Hua Hin and Chiang Mai. We are starting to promote them more to Indian tourists,” she said.