NEW YORK -- Thai tourism officials are counting on the
burgeoning strength of the U.S. dollar relative to the Thai baht to
help make their 1998-1999 Amazing Thailand promotional campaign
even more effective in drawing visitors.
"The price of hotels, food, attractions and shopping is up to
40% less [in U.S. dollars] than a year ago," said Manit Boonchim,
North America East Coast director for the Tourism Authority of
Thailand, at a press briefing here. "Even the air fares from the
U.S. and the cost of tour packages are at some of their lowest
During the next two years, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is
promoting the destination under the banner theme "Amazing Thailand"
in its advertising and informational materials, with a focus on
special events, special-interest markets and new tour programs.
For example, the Tourism Authority has declared April 1998 and
1999 to be Thai Food Festival months, while the focus during June
and from mid-November to mid-December of both years will be on
shopping, with 20% discount coupons handed out to all arriving
Moreover, "a plan is in process to eliminate the value-added tax
on purchases by foreign visitors," something that should be
achieved in a few months, said Nat Boonthanakit, the Tourism
Authority's eastern region marketing manager.
In the special-interest area, the Tourism Authority plans to
make new nature-oriented guidebooks available for visitors and will
work with local tour companies to develop new itineraries with an
But an obvious focus of the overall promotion is to get the word
out about the affordability of Thailand to visitors armed with
To that end, tourism officials cited several examples currently
on the market.Thai Airways' in-house Royal Orchid tour operation is promoting
packages through May with prices starting at $750 per person,
double, from the West Coast and $999 from the East Coast. The
packages feature roundtrip air to Bangkok, four nights in a hotel,
transfers, breakfasts and sightseeing (800) 426-5204.Malaysia Airlines, at (800) 552-9264, is launching new 777
service on April 13 from Newark (N.J.) Airport to Kuala Lumpur via
Dubai. Introductory roundtrip fares start at $700 to Kuala Lumpur
or Singapore, $750 to Bangkok and $777 to Hong Kong, for travel
through June 12, with a maximum stayover of 30 days and a 10%
commission.Pacific Protour, at (800) 776-8882 has packages through May
starting at $959 per person, double. The offer includes roundtrip
air from New York on Cathay Pacific, five nights' accommodations,
transfers, breakfasts, one dinner, sightseeing, tax and service
charges and free air add-ons from nine other cities in the
Northeast.VacationLand (800) 245-0050, has a starting price of $899 per
person, double, through May for a shoppers' package. The deal
covers roundtrip air from New York or Los Angeles on Malaysia
Airlines, three nights in Kuala Lumpur and four in Bangkok,
breakfasts, transfers, sightseeing, hotel taxes and service
charges.Sequel Destinations, at (888) 426-7339, through May has a price
of $1,120 per person, double, for a three-night Bangkok package.
The plan includes roundtrip air from New York with a stopover in
Manila; accommodations at the Asia Bangkok, Le Meridien or Crowne
Plaza; daily breakfasts; transfers; sightseeing, and hotel taxes
and service charges.
Boonthanakit said one aim of the Amazing Thailand promotion is
to give tourists "a hands-on experience" at the destination instead
of a passive, sightseeing-oriented visit.
He added that Thailand is making progress on eliminating some of
the headaches that visitors have faced in recent years, especially
Bangkok's notorious traffic problems, which are being alleviated
through construction of a beltway system and other expressways.
"With the new tollways and expressways, the traffic situation has
improved," he said. "That was always a concern in dealing with
large meetings and conventions. Today, travel time at any time of
the day from the airport to any downtown hotel is about 30
minutes," he said.
Tourism Authority of Thailand
Phone: (212) 432-0433