From Chiang Rai in the North to Narathiwat in the South, Thailand showcased more than 50 secondary cities waiting to be explored during the Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM+) held in early June.
Organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, TTM+ 2019 was held on 5-6 June 2019 at Chonburi’s Ocean Marina Yacht Club, connecting 340 buyers from 51 countries with 370 exhibitors.
Speaking to LATTE and select Australian media at the event, TAT ASEAN South Asia & South Pacific Executive Director, Klissada Ratanapruk, and South Pacific Director, Kulpramote Wannalert, highlighted the new plan, which aims to encourage more tourists to explore outside of Thailand’s biggest tourist hubs.
“Thailand has 22 major cities,” explained Ratanapruk, and “55 emerging destinations”. Already popular with domestic tourists, in 2018, these destinations recorded over 6 million trips by foreign visitors, up nearly 5% over last year.
Tourism Authority of Thailand’s first step will be to link major destinations to nearby emerging cities, such as Lamphun and Lampang from Chiang Mai in the North, and Chantanburi and Trat from Pattaya in the East.
Step two will be to promote new potential emerging cities, some of which already have strong identities and positioning. One example cited by Wannalert is Buri Ram in the North East which has a rich Khmer heritage, and is also becoming a regional hub for domestic and global sports.
The third step is to combine emerging cities together, due to their proximity or shared histories. Combining the first capital of the Kingdom, Sukhothai, with Phitsanulok and Kamphaeng Phet, for instance, would make an outstanding historical route, Wannalert suggested.
TTM+2019 was held for the second consecutive year in Pattaya to emphasise its new image as a tourist destination for families and luxury travellers, with the region offering a broad range of tourism products and services.
This year’s event saw buyers and media from new source markets, new exhibitors from Thailand’s new emerging destinations, a line-up of all-Thai speakers at the knowledge-sharing platform, new tours linking the Eastern Corridor of Thailand to neighbouring Cambodia and a product showcase for community-based enterprises.
A total of 59% of the buyers and sellers said they entered into immediate business contracts, a strong indication that the trade show was attended by decision-makers on both sides.
TTM+ Talk, the event’s knowledge-sharing platform, focused on the theme “Making the World a Better Place through Travel”, and included a line-up of 10 speakers, thinkers, entrepreneurs, designers, media, IT specialists and historians to provide new perspectives on how change can positively contribute to society and the environment.