A lot of taking the bus from Bangkok to Koh Phangan, or sightseeing around Thailand are international visitors, usually from Europe or China, with the occasional ASEAN tourist being sighted. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) however, is looking to increase the number of ASEAN tourists in the country in 2018, with a goal of hitting 10M within the year.
According to Deputy Governor Tanes Petsuwan, TAT Marketing Communications, revealed the TAT’s plans to encourage tourism from the region, and adds that Thailand and the TAT has opened about 30 new overland border checkpoints for visitors coming in from the region, particularly Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia and Cambodia. Additionally, Thailand four friendship bridges with Laos, and two with Myanmar, with more to follow.
All of these developments are aimed at encouraging visitors from the ASEAN region to visit Thailand. Mr. Tanes says that the ASEAN highway is growing at an incredible pace, and will soon be providing road connectivity beyond just the closest land-neighbouring country, but also to China and India. Rail travel, he adds, will be the next step in land transport infrastructure, with high-speed links currently undergoing designing and planning.
Marine connectivity and air connectivity are also on the rise, with the former being seen in places like Phuket, Pattaya, and KohSamui, and neighbouring islands, which are now home to several marinas for those who want to forego the bus from Bangkok to KohPhangan, and travel by boat. Ferries bringing in people from Malaysia and other nearby countries is also growing and is expected to continue doing so.
According to Mr. Tanes, ASEAN countries account for the largest part of Thailand’s Asian visitor source market, supplying 9 million visitors back in 2017, with Malaysia being the largest contributor, with 3.35M arrivals, despite a drop in volume from 2016.
The TAT predicts that ASEAN visitors into Thailand will hit 10M in 2018, thanks to increased airline capabilities and promotions from operators.
Part of the TAT’s efforts to boost ASEAN tourism, is the “Experience Thailand and More” programme, which has four notable experiences which seek to enhance ASEAN connectivity. This programme has key experiences, which cover ASEAN history. One of these routes connect Northern Thailand with the historic trails located in the Northern areas of the ASEAN region. The other routes connect Thailand’s cultural hotspots with the nearby locations from other ASEAN countries.
All of these are aimed at stimulating Thailand’s economy via the tourism industry by bringing in international and domestic visitors, with a target of Bt10B in income generated.