The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) homes in on Asian expatriate segment
Source：Bangkok Post Newspaper
From：Taiwan Trade Center, Bangkok
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is eyeing Asian expatriates, including Chinese nationals residing in Laos and Cambodia, due to their increasing wealth and demand for sending their children to study in Thailand.
Oranooch Pakapan-Rutten, TAT's marketing representative in Cambodia and Laos, said Japanese, Korean and Chinese investors residing in Cambodia and Laos frequently cross the border into Thailand to buy quality products and services in the country. Making them an attractive segment for Thai tourism.
As people now have the China-Laos high speed rail service as a new transport option, Thailand should prepare to welcome more Chinese visitors who travel to northeastern Thailand via Vientiane in Laos, said Mrs Oranooch.
As well as Chinese citizens, she said Cambodia and Laos also both have the potential to promote the high spending segment to visit Thailand, particularly people in employment who have benefitted from an influx of foreign investment in their countries.
She said most members of this segment had already visited Thailand more than once, and were familiar with Thai culture and the country's tourism products. They perceived Thai tourism as being high quality with affordable prices.
While 50% of Cambodian and Lao visitors sought to make trips to Thailand for leisure purposes, medical and health check-ups were the two other reasons in the top three for paying a visit to the country.
Roughly 20% of Lao visitors and 4.5% of Cambodian tourists were medical tourists.
Many students from the two countries, which are considered to be part of the longer stay segment, also choose to study in Thai universities over other countries.
According to the TAT, Cambodian tourists spent around 40,500 baht per trip on average, with an average stay of more than five nights, while average spending among Lao visitors stood at 31,489 baht with an average stay of six nights.
From January to May, Cambodian and Lao tourists tallied 229,000 and 330,000, respectively.
Adith Chairattananon, honorary secretary-general of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, said the government should consider a visa waiver scheme for Chinese tourists entering via certain land borders, such as Udon Thani from Laos and Cambodia, since demand already exists there.
Mr Adith said even tourists who just wish to take a day trip to Thailand still have to pay 2,000 baht for the visa-on-arrival. This cost prevented them from extending their visit and spending more money in the country.
Mr Adith said instead of applying the same rate, the government should allow them to spend 72 hours in Thailand without an additional charge.
If this rule were implemented, tourism operators in those provinces are ready to prepare their products and services to help attract such visitors.