The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) organised the fifth Thailand Golf Travel Mart in the capital as part of an ongoing strategy to further develop an important source of high-spending, long-staying customer segment.
The event attracted a contingent of 116 top golf tour operators from 24 countries, the top five of whom were from China (22), Japan (17), India (9), South Korea (8), Singapore (7). To broaden the exposure of Thailand’s golfing attractions, TAT has carefully screened and invited 59 first-time buyers, especially from new markets such as Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Portugal and Sweden.
Among the 97 Thai exhibitors, mainly representatives of Thailand’s stunning golf courses and resorts, 37 were from the Central Region, 23 from the East, 22 from the North, 10 from the South and five from the Northeast. They include 39 first-time sellers.
The topic of the panel discussion was “Thailand beyond a Premier Golf Destination” which featured Tanes Petsuwan, TAT Deputy Governor for Marketing and Communications, Thongchai Jaidee, a Thai professional golfer and David Rollo, vice president, Golf – IMG Events.
The previous four TGTMs have been held in Hua Hin, Pattaya, Khao Yai and Phuket to highlight the geographical and professional diversity of the kingdom’s leading sports tourism sector. Chiang Mai, the city known as the Rose of the North, is a very important golfing destination with international standard golfing facilities set amidst the backdrop of picturesque natural landscapes, rich history and culture of the Northern region.
Thailand is among the top destinations in Asia for golf with some 7,00,000 golfers coming here each year. There are over 300 courses nationwide with comparatively low green fees and high professional standards. The World Golf Travel Agents Association recently named Thailand as the “best up and coming destination for golf vacations.” Chiang Mai itself was voted the next golf destination.
Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, TAT Deputy Governor for International Marketing, Asia and South Pacific, said, “We are very pleased with the great response to this year’s golf travel mart. We have rotated it all around the country ever since its inception in order to maximise exposure of the tremendous diversity of our golf products, especially in the emerging provinces. This year, we are encouraging the invited golfers to try out Lamphun, 20 kilometres from Chiang Mai, a small province where investors have developed four breathtaking golf courses with gorgeous scenery.”
As with other specialist niche-market travel events, the TGTM will be carefully monitored to ensure that TAT remains abreast of global trends and delivers the right product to the right buyers.
Chattan said, “With every passing year, Thailand faces increasing competition for the tourist dollar on the global stage. We are looking forward to networking with the buyers and listening to their feedback on how we can best maximise opportunities for both of us.”