The Thai Hotels Association (THA) and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will kick off a one-month global campaign in December to woo back tourists in the aftermath of the floods.
The campaign is set to start from December 15, 2011 until January 15, 2012. At least 50-100 THA members across the country, mostly 3-4 star hotels, are expected to join the campaign.
Participating hotels will offer “buy one get one free” deals on their normal room rates, to encourage tourists during the designated period.
TAT’s 26 worldwide offices will help promote and sell the campaign.
THA president Prakit Chinamourphong said that though the campaign would run globally, THA and TAT would focus on short-haul markets like Hong Kong, Singapore and China as tourists from here would offer a faster response than long-haul travellers.
THA hoped that the campaign would boost tourism by 20-30 per cent.
Prakit said that flooding had caused hotel occupancy rate nationwide in November to drop from a projected 68 per cent to 62 per cent, but still an improvement from 53 per cent in last November.
Hotels in Bangkok this month reported a drop of 40 per cent as international tourists were still worried about inundation.
“Average occupancy rate at hotels in Bangkok this month was 55-60 per cent, which is lower than the expected 75-80 per cent,” said Prakit.
Hotels in Phuket are running as high as 70 per cent this month, compared to 36 per cent in same time last year.
Operators in Pattaya are experiencing 70 per cent in November. Half of the guests are local people who escaped the flooding in Bangkok and Central region.
The occupancy rate at hotels in Chiang Mai was 56 per cent in November, but rose to as high as 80-90 per cent in December due to the Royal Flora Expo and a huge conference.
Thailand’s worst floods have already washed away more than 400,000 international tourists.
The negative impact is expected to continue and may lead to another 300,000 visitors staying away this year.
Sansern Ngaorangsi, deputy governor for Asia and South-Pacific Markets at TAT, said it had revised down total arrivals from the projected 19.5 million to 18.3 million mainly due to the flooding.
He said the authority planned to organise a mega familiarisation trip in mid-December bringing in 500 travel agents and media representatives from around the world.
He added that TAT would add more marketing activities in January and March to boost foreign visitors.
According to Prakit, the association has handed its rehabilitation plans to Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpol Silpa-archa, and urged the government to help with corporate tax measures, extend dept repayment as well as provide financial assistance to affected operators.
The ministry asked the government for Bt3-5 billion to rebuild entire tourism.
On Nov 28, Tourism Authority of Thailand also rolled out a recovery campaigns “Beautiful Thailand” to lure back tourists, working in cooperation with media worldwide to highlight Thailand’s hospitality not price cutting. It is confident that the tourism sector would return to normal from end of this year. According to Governor Suraphon, the most effective strategy to restore tourist confidence and build lasting momentum for the Thai tourism sector is to focus on valueadded services and warm Thai hospitality, not engage in price cutting.
“We are now focused on restoring tourist arrivals for the duration of the high season. The TAT is confident that from the yearend holiday period until March 2012, the second half of the high season, the tourism sector will have recovered. In the past, the Thai tourism sector has come back quickly when faced with similar situations. This clearly shows travellers’ preference for and loyalty to the Thailand brand,” said Suraphon.
To ensure the rapid recovery of the Thai tourism sector, the TAT is conducting a comprehensive communications and marketing campaign called “Beautiful Thailand.” It involves engaging media from key markets worldwide. Since the middle of November, TAT executives have met with the bulk of foreign media stationed in Thailand, broadcast media visiting from China, the Ukraine, Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam, and Israel, and have appeared on regional cable channels; such as, Bloomberg TV. The TAT is also planning a mega famtrip during December that will bring over 300 travel media from overseas to see for themselves that most of Thailand’s tourism attractions and infrastructure remain intact.
The TAT’s 25 overseas offices are working directly with tour operators in their local markets to develop campaigns and promotions to restore confidence and support tourist arrivals. These initiatives include special promotions with airlines and tour operators, TV and movie production, and celebrity marketing.