CHIANGRAI TIMES – Consumers turned out in their droves, over the weekend, to catch travel discounts at the Wonderful Thailand, Wonderful World 2012. Around 250,000 consumers, mainly Thais living in Bangkok, turned out to visit the tourism fair.
Bargain hunters were attracted to two sub-themes promoting diving and golfing where suppliers were offering 50% discounts on promotional packages to South Thailand.
Golf and diving are the two most popular sports tourism niches in Thailand driven by domestic demand, but also attracting expatriates living in the country.
Held at Queen Sirikit Convention Centre, Wonderful Thailand, Wonderful World, a domestic consumer travel fair highlighted the Thailand Golf & Dive Expo 2012. In addition to the 50% discounts, there were customized packages for diving or golf lessons and accommodation discounts that the organisers said were only available at the show.
NCC Exhibition Organization Company deputy general manager, Bussaya Prakobthong, noted the dive event was successful for nine years and was combined with golf just four years to broaden the scope for suppliers.
“The scale of the shows are not as big as other tourism fairs, but our strength is we are go for niches and the growth is steady and rewarding,” she said.
Thailand Golf and Diving Expo featured 200 booths and while the emphasis was on domestic travel some agents were offering dive and golf tours to Malaysia and Indonesia.
One travel agent, iDive, partnered with Nok Air to sell an all-inclusive package for diving at six locations near Phuket. The four-day/ three-night package cost Bt13,800 per person limited to just the event.
South Thailand was the main focus for golf tours with most of the tours valid until the end of the rainy season in October.
There were criticisms. One focused on the size of various theme niche markets and the lack of variety in products. Another was the lack of readiness. Despite paying for the booths some companies failed to open for business on day one. Even more distressing for some of the companies, staff assigned to booths ,went missing, possibly on extended coffee breaks or to chat to their friends on their mobile phones outside the show building.
But overall, the golf and dive sections illustrated Thailand’s tourism options and indicated that exhibitions that focus on a specific themes can draw consumers. However, if you were an expatriate living in Thailand and wishing to organise a holiday for your family, you would have been very disappointed at the lack of English language brochures and lack of English language skills.
Ms Bussaya said that the company will work with the Tourism Authority of Thailand to build new niche market shows.
“This year we tried eco tourism and adventure tours by adding some booths as a part in the Wonderful Thailand, Wonderful World and we will evaluate the response from suppliers,” she said.
The entire show including the general tourism areas had 500 booths and attracted 250,000 visitors who spent an estimated Bt400 million.