Indian tourists love Thailand, despite turmoil

New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) Weeks of violent anti-government protests have failed to stop Indian tourists and others from flocking to Bangkok, the capital of Thailand and one of the most compelling Asian destinations for globetrotters, especially shoppers.

Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, director of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), New Delhi, says Thailand’s tourism industry is resiliently getting into recovery mode after weeks of political turmoil in April-May that spilled on to the streets, leaving around 90 people dead.

According to latest figures released by TAT, the country received 6,563,099 visitors from January to May this year, registering a 16.07 percent year-on-year growth. From India alone, 277,393 tourists visited Thailand during this period.

TAT director Ayudhya, however, admits that the protests hit Bangkok when Indian tourist arrivals were at their peak.

‘India is among the primary short haul markets for us and we value Indian travellers. Yes, the tension surely came in when the Indian market holiday season was getting to its peak, but the positive side was that there were many repeat visitors who travelled to Thailand anyway by avoiding Bangkok and heading straight for our regional holiday spots,’ said Ayudhya.

Sanjay Varma, director, Senator Travels Pvt Ltd, told IANS: ‘Disturbances take place everywhere, but everything comes back to normalcy soon. People take precaution for 10-15 days and after that they go with the flow and forget such incidents.

‘Yes, there was a bit of pull down but to tell you from my personal experience, there was the wedding of a friend’s daughter in Bangkok during the protests and only the venue was changed from one hotel to another. Everything else went off peacefully. So people were visiting.’

Ayudhya said much of the recovery initiatives will be focussed towards the B2B (business-to-business) platform for a mutual interface between Thailand’s travel trade and the Indian trade fraternity.

That will mean new deals and packages for travellers with value additions like discounts, late check-outs and complimentary kids’ meals.

‘As the national tourist organisation, our immediate focus will be to work in joint cooperation with tour operators, airlines and tourist businesses to devise effective marketing strategy customised to respond to the demands of our global markets to tactically attract travellers,’ Ayudhya said.

To lure more consumers, hospitality groups like Amari are offering exclusive discount packages.

At Amari Watergate in Bangkok, you can opt for a minimum of two nights/three days at Rs.16,735 which also includes breakfast and dinner, besides welcome dinner. The kids can eat free with parents.

‘Looking ahead,’ Ayudhya said, ‘we are working towards recovery of tourist arrivals in the coming months and I am positive this will happen as the market has shown signs of returning to a healthy growth.’

(Shilpa Raina can be contacted at shilpa.r@ians.in)

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