Thailand has witnessed an influx of travellers from the Middle East over the past few years and generated over 11 million in Thai baht. Pischaya Saisengchan, Director—Dubai & Middle East, Tourism Authority of Thailand, provides an account of the lucrative markets for Thailand.
How important is the Middle East market for Thailand tourism?
Thailand is one of the leading destinations for visitors from the Middle East, with many of those being repeat visitors. Our presence at Arabian Travel Market generates more than $2.5 billion of travel industry deals besides attracting visitors from the region. Throughout the year, we will be working with partners to ensure we are targeting our key markets and increasing footfalls from the Middle East. Islam is the second largest religion in Thailand and the country is packed with Muslim-friendly hotels, activities and halal restaurants for travellers from the Middle East.
Do you have any figures on the number of visitors over the past year from the Middle East?
The top three countries in terms of the number of visitors are the UAE, Oman and Kuwait. In 2018, Thailand welcomed 128,271 UAE nationals, generating 11,135.47m THB of revenue. Oman came second with 97,724 visitors generating 7229.34m THB. Statistics show that a majority of travellers from Oman travel to Thailand for health and medical tourism. Finally, 74,665 Kuwait nationals visited Thailand, generating 7,649.29m THB of revenue.
What will you be promoting for the Middle East market for summer?
Our destination focus will be on Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Koh Samui and Chiang Mai. Our current campaign, ‘Open to the New Shades’ projects that Thailand offers an insurmountable number of offthe-beaten-track destinations. Koh Chang, the third largest island in Thailand after Phuket and Koh Samui, is a serene and still island with untouched nature. Salak Khok Fisherman Village is a highlight – you can sit in the traditional paddleboat and cruise along stunning mangroves. In the north as well as in Chiang Mai, globetrotters from the Middle East can recharge in the Nan Province, a slow-paced city full of cafés, rice fields and centuries-old temples. ICONSIAM, a new shopping mall in Bangkok, situated by Chao Phraya River inspired by Thai art, serves the luxury taste of Middle Eastern visitors, combining high-end brands. Sooksiam, an indoor market and floating market delivers tasty food and high-quality products from all regions across Thailand.