Thailand’s Tourism Sector – The Future


The TAT Governor recently presented a speech at a Chamber of Commerce Meeting in which he provided the TAT vision for tourism in Thailand.  Here are some excerpts from that presentation.

The Thai tourism industry has also come a long way since we actively promoted Thailand as a holiday destination in the early 1960s. Allow me to give you a brief roundup of the Thai tourism situation.

In 2012, Thailand achieved another record-breaking performance, crossing the 22 million mark for the first time. Two source markets, China and Malaysia, are now generating more than two million annual arrivals each. And four source markets – Japan, Russia, South Korea, and India – are generating more than one million arrivals each.

All this growth, and indeed the growth in the entire travel and tourism industry worldwide, has been the direct result of geopolitical peace and economic stability, mainly in the Asia-Pacific region, and the absence of any major environmental disasters or health pandemics or local disturbances; such as, those which occurred almost annually in the first decade of the 21st century.

In January to May 2013, Thailand’s visitor arrivals surged to a record total of a little over 10.6 million (10,688,133), up by 19.09 percent over the same period of 2012, according to figures published by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.  Visitors from East Asia totalled 6.01 million (+28.75%), Europe 2.95 million (+12.85%), the Americas 503,000 (+5.75%), and South Asia 538,000 (+4.32%). There were three regions that showed a decline: the Middle East 222,000 (-3.19%), Oceania 392,000 (-1.85%), and Africa 62,000 (-1.82%).  From January to May this year, we received a total of 1.9 million Chinese arrivals (+93%). In fact, China crossed the one million mark back in March. The growth was mainly due to the Lunar New Year in February 2013, which led to a spike in long-holiday travel to Thailand. In addition, major markets like Russia, South Korea, and Germany are showing strong double digit growth and Japan has bounced back strongly.

In 2013, TAT is confident that if the global, regional and local situation remains stable, Thailand will receive 24.14 million arrivals, generating a projected tourism income of 1.1 trillion Baht.


The core theme of the TAT Action Plan 2013 is “Higher Revenue through Thainess”. This means emphasising our Unique Selling Proposition, which is the Charm of Thainess, especially the Thai Experience, Thai Way of Life, and Thai Culture. TAT will put more effort to increase first-time visitors and high spenders (Luxury Markets).

In fact, to give a fun and catchy name to our plan, we are calling it our DISCO Plan. DISCO comprises five components:

D is for Digital Marketing

I is for Image Building

S is for Sustainability

C is for Crystallization and Crisis Communication

O is for Organization Management


TAT understands the importance of not only having a highly visible presence in the online world, but also in producing and delivering content that is stimulating to our target markets wherever they are.  One example of our online footprint in the digital domain is The Little Big Project, a global digital marketing Volunteer Tourism competition funded by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to inspire worldwide travellers to take a volunteer vacation in Thailand. The project began in March and will run to July 2013. This has given contestants an opportunity to do something meaningful while on holiday.


The current message we are trying to get across is that a holiday in Thailand is a lot of fun. In implementing our global media campaign, we are focusing on the experience our visitors can look forward to receiving when they are in Thailand.  However, image building is not confined only to colourful ads, but also involves in essence taking Thainess to the world at every high-profile opportunity.  In this regard, we go to great lengths to maintain consistency when we work with celebrities to promote Thailand, when we have exposure at major international events like the recently concluded Monaco Grand Prix, the Paestum Balloon Festival in Italy, the Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan, and BNP Paribas Tennis Open at Indian Wells in the United States, as well as leveraging the success of movies and TV programmes filmed here like Lost in Thailand and The Bachelor in the United States.


Sustainable tourism is the backbone of conducting the tourism business now and in the future. With rapid growth comes a number of problems that must be addressed. As a tourism marketing agency, we strive to strike a balance between promotion and sustainability.

Major projects for us in this area include pushing:

– The 7 Greens Concept to encourage Thailand’s tourism industry to take responsibility in creating environmentally-friendly tourism practices and products.

– We also collaborate with various partners to identify interesting options for eco-friendly travel; such as, the Green Hotels. At present, we have more than 100 green hotels and 50 ready-to-market eco-friendly products around the country.

– To be in line with the 7 greens Concept, we have also initiated the “Pedal around Thailand” activity with the aim to promote an eco-mode of travel by bike amongst the young generation that will lead the way to sustainable tourism. Two pilot routes of Nonthaburi to Ayutthaya provinces and bike around Bangkok have been launched for this activity.

– Furthermore, there is our 50 Great Green Escapes book to highlight fascinating green tourism routes and activities in Thailand.

– And we have initiated the Thailand Tourism Awards, which has been held continually every two years since 1996. The objective of the event is to encourage the competitiveness in terms of the quality of management and services in the tourism sector and related businesses, which enhance the marketing benefits and social-community participation to contribute to sustainable tourism. Meanwhile we want to boost the marketing promotion and expansion of the success in marketing management to the award recipients and to honour the award winners, and encourage other entrepreneurs to develop their standardised quality operations both directly and indirectly.


With regards to crystallization in TAT, when we talk about this, we mean that before we make any marketing decision, we must have clear and concise market information and statistics at our disposal. We receive and monitor them through our domestic and overseas offices, and rely on our extensive network with travel trade professionals globally.

This network with our allies in the public and private sectors; such as, the Tourism Council, ATTA, THA, TCEB, TICA, Thai Airways International, and other airlines as well as Team Thailand in overseas diplomatic missions help us to communicate accurate and up-to-date information during crises that assists us to recover faster. In fact, many BCCT members were instrumental in getting updates to your clients when Thailand was faced with crises in the past.


This is the heart of the implementation process. All marketing plans need to be professionally executed and evaluated. Thus, TAT will continue to upgrade the delivery skills of its staff in order to ensure operational and management efficiency and meeting of the Key Performance Indicators. We follow the path as set in our Corporate Plan as well as work according to the State Enterprise Performance Appraisal or SEPA guidelines. I can tell you that for any tourism industry to grow, it needs plenty of partners who are ready to join us on mutually beneficial activities. In recent years, TAT has worked with all sorts of businesses to promote tourism. Whether your business is large or small, industrial or commercial, I believe there exist opportunities that can be developed between us. As fans of Thailand, TAT is open to any suggestions you have.