The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) established its representative office in HCM City in October 2007, as Viet Nam is one of the major generating markets for Thailand tourism. Since then, the office has been an active channel promoting Thailand widely to Vietnamese tourists, and has been supporting local tour agencies in developing various Thailand tourism packages. Director of the TAT at the HCM City Office, Chutathip Chareonlarp talks about the role of the Vietnamese market in Thailand tourism.
How do you value the potential of the Vietnamese market for Thailand tourism?
|Director of the TAT at the HCM City Office, Chutathip Chareonlarp. —VNS Photo
Thailand was voted the "Most Favourite Foreign Tourist Destination for the Vietnamese" in 2011 by readers of Sai Gon Giai Phong
(Liberated Saigon) Newspaper.
In the first nine months of this year, Thailand attracted more than 17 million international visitors, a fall of around 10 per cent year on year, due to its political chaos. Viet Nam contributed more than 455,000 visitors. As Viet Nam is one of the main generating markets for Thailand tourism, we have offered several special promotion programmes to attract more Vietnamese tourists, especially in the coming festive months.
How do TAT and its HCM City office work with the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) to strengthen the co-operation in tourism development?
TAT and its representative office in HCM City work very closely with VNAT to exchange initiatives, organise meetings or support familiarisation trips. Both sides also participated in tourism expos such as Thailand Travel Mart Plus in Bangkok, the International Travel Expo in HCM City and the Viet Nam International Travel Mart in Ha Noi.
This year, TAT has co-operated with the Association of Thai Travel Marketing (ATTM) and VNAT to organise networking events in HCM City and Ha Noi. The events have drawn members of PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) Viet Nam and Thai tour operators.
Last year, through the TAT America Office, a group of American tour operators made a survey trip to Viet Nam, where they met local tour agents to discuss business opportunities.
In March 2012, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on promoting MICE co-operation between Viet Nam and Thailand was signed by the representatives of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) and the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).
In 2010, TAT and VNAT also signed an MoU on a co-operation programme targeting 1 million Thai and Vietnamese tourists by 2015, as well as to strengthen mutual co-operation for further development of the tourism industry of each country.
TAT's HCM City Office recently hosted a caravan trip through Viet Nam, Laos and Thailand for Vietnamese tour operators. What was the main purpose of this trip?
Travelling by car or large bikes is a new trend for Vietnamese tourists, who take advantage of the many international border crossing points between Viet Nam, Laos PDR and Thailand.
The recent caravan trip, which departed from the Lao Bao Checkpoint in Quang Tri Province and returned via the Cha Lo Checkpoint in Quang Binh, gave tour operators an opportunity to see and survey the routes.
The tour programme also included "Table-Top Sales" which allowed the tour operators to meet, discuss and develop new tourism products. More than 20 Thai tour operators and hotel representatives from Thailand's northeastern region joined Vietnamese tour operators in this event.
How does TAT HCM City Office support Viet Nam's tour agents to develop caravan tours?
One of our main missions is to support the local tour operators to develop a variety of Thailand tourism products. There are many ways of doing this, such as to share advertising costs, co-host familiarisation trips to survey new routes and programmes, and to arrange with the local office to welcome the caravan groups.
TAT HCM will soon publish a caravan handbook, which introduces the potential routes that are there within Thailand and connect to the neighbouring countries. We do hope that it will be very useful for having an amazing driving experience in Thailand.
How do you assess the potential of caravan tourism in Viet Nam as well as in the region?
Travelling either by car, on large bikes or by bus has become more popular. In 2012, there were 617,804 Vietnamese tourist arrivals in Thailand, of which 303,659 [equal to 49.15 per cent] travelled overland. In 2013, this number increased to 51.52 per cent. In the first nine months of this year, the figure is 60.35 per cent. These figures show that travelling overland is a new trend and has potential.
Likewise, Thai tourists also like to travel to Viet Nam by car or on bikes. A few months ago, a group of bikers travelled to Viet Nam from Thailand via the Bo Y Checkpoint to participate in the bike festival in Da Lat. At the moment, there is another group of 29 cars with 100 travellers visiting Can Tho, Ha Tien and Sihanoukville, as well as Koh Kong under the theme "Asean Experience Caravan". — VNS