Sunday, 25 December 2011

Thailand Breaking Tourist Arrivals Records in 2011

Tourism in Thailand has been steadily growing since the 1960's when a more stable political environment coupled with transformation of Bangkok airport into an international hub, began attracting foreign visitors from the west, keen to explore ever more exotic destinations. The Thai hotel and resort scene developed at a similarly fast pace in order to keep up with the huge demand for quality accommodation.

The tourist industry also greatly benefited from the US soldiers sent to the country for rest and recuperation during the Vietnam war, who later returned for family holidays. In the 1970's, the arrival of the iconic Boeing 747 championed cheap and fast long haul flights and Thailand became one of the major Asian holiday destinations. Despite fierce competition from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam in the 1980's, Thailand remained popular and by 2007 ranked 18th in the 'Most Visited Country in the World' tourist rankings.

In the last few years, political unrest coupled with global economic turmoil has prompted a dip in tourist numbers, not only to Thailand but all over the world. The negative trend in Thailand looks set to be short lived however, with The Tourism Authority of Thailand (known as TAT) forecasting that international visitors to the country will exceed fifteen and maybe even reach as many as twenty million in 2011.

These record numbers are expected to net an estimated one trillion baht in tourism related revenue and many Thai hotels, resorts and businesses will reap the rewards. In fact, arrivals to Thailand are already up by 25% on last year, boosted by the stable Thai political scene and the exceptional value for money that a holiday in Thailand offers those seeking to tighten their financial belts. Thailand is now regarded as such a cost effective holiday destination, that it was actually voted second in 'Best Value Destinations 2010', just after Iceland. This dramatic reversal in fortune has been aided by several high profile campaigns and marketing activities coordinated by TAT, who are energetically targeting specialist markets such as female travellers, eco tourists and wellness visitors. Thailand is also being promoted as a centre for Buddhism in Asia, where tourists can explore stunning Thai temples and learn more about this gentle and fascinating religion.

It is interesting to observe that within the top ten visitors to Thailand by country (China, Korea, Russia, India, UK, Australia, US, Singapore and Germany) are many emerging market nations, directly reflecting the current changes in the world economy.

These days, an increasing number of foreign tourists to Thailand are so-called 'medical tourists', who flock to Bangkok's world class hospitals. The standard of medical care at Thai facilities has a well deserved reputation for excellence and is considerably less expensive than in countries such as the US. Medical tourism has become such a successful industry that many holiday companies are actively selling Thai holidays that combine an operation or hospital treatment. Only recently Oman Air joined forces with Piyavate Hospital in Bangkok to offer passengers flying from Oman substantial discounts on treatments at this state-of-the-art Bangkok hospital. And domestic tourism is also on the up in Thailand, as a more prosperous population begins to explore the unique cultural sights and breathtaking Thai beach resorts that foreign tourists have been admiring for decades. It seems likely that they will have to compete with record numbers of foreigners for the best Thai hotel rooms, for the foreseeable future!

Pierre-Yves Loriers, affectionately known as 'Ton' to his friends, family and colleagues, is the innovative and charismatic Managing Director of Ton Company Ltd, a leading architecture, property development and exclusive holiday villa company in Thailand.

Despite the success of his company, Ton prides himself on remaining very hands-on, taking an active role in all of Ton and Company's operations. Ton energetically participates in all aspects of each and every project, including management and production and his leadership is an inspiration to an 20 strong team of highly professional and dedicated staff.