The lure of Thailand’s warm hospitality, sandy beaches, tropical climate and outstanding accommodation – often in secluded settings – has long been strong for visitors looking for romantic luxury holidays.
The weddings and honeymoon markets are becoming an important niche market for Thailand’s tourism operators, as an increasing number of the 35 million tourists who visit each year look for destinations to celebrate their nuptials.
This year’s Thailand Travel Mart, which brings together around 300 international buyers from over 60 countries to meet a similar number of Thai sellers, put the luxury and romance market in sharp focus.
Themed ‘A Million Shades of Romance’, the trade event featured Thailand’s rich culture and history, beautiful natural attractions and beaches, superb cuisine and a full range of accommodation, as the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) shifts its strategy from mass tourism to niche markets that will attract more high-spending, long-staying visitors.
Around US$1.77 billion was generated by the weddings and honeymoon markets in Thailand last year from around 1.1 million visitors. Major destinations for weddings are the resort regions of Phuket, Kho Samui, Krabi, and Pattaya, and Chiang Mai in Thailand’s north.
Australia is one of the top three short-haul target markets for weddings, along with India and Hong Kong, but the Oceania region only accounts for about 18% of the wedding market.
Around 104,000 visitors travel to Thailand for weddings each year, just outstripping the honeymoon market, which attracts around 988,900 visitors and generates US$1.4 billion in spending. The Tourism Authority of Thailand aims to grow these market sectors by 5% in the next year.
Pattaya was chosen as the location for this year’s Thailand Tourism Market because of its ability to add new activities and attractions – and to reinvent or modernise existing ones – making a good example of the concept behind TAT’s latest concept of Amazing Thailand – ‘Open to the New Shades’. The concept encourages tourists to explore the many different facets of Thailand – gastronomy tourism, arts and crafts, culture and unique ways of life by discovering new attractions for the first time and rediscovering existing attractions from a new perspective.