The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Dubai and Middle East Office hosted the 2015 Discover Thainess Networking Lunch on Wednesday, 6 May, 2015, during the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) at the Al Wasl Ballroom, Dusit Thani Dubai.

Speaking at the event, H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports said, “The Middle East market has remained an important source market for us with an increase in the total number of arrivals by 49.62% in January 2015. The “2015 Discover Thainess” Campaign is an attempt to attract first time and repeat visitors to explore Thailand’s new destinations including the country’s 12 hidden gems; namely, Lampang, Phetchabun, Nan, Buri Ram, Loei, Samut Songkhram, Ratchaburi, Trat, Chanthaburi, Trang, Chumphon and Nakhon Si Thammarat, and to discover Thainess, the Thai way of life through the people and culture.”

Also speaking at the event, Mr. Chalermsak Suaranat, Director of the TAT Dubai and Middle East Office said, “Visitors from the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait already comprise the highest spending category of visitors to Thailand. They also enjoy the “Green Season” of the monsoon months (July-August) in our country as well as our destinations, attractions, and activities catering to this market.” Thailand remains a popular destination to many Arab travellers, as it has been named as one of the Top 10 Muslim friendly tourist destinations in the world by the Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2015. (Ranked No. 2 for Non-OIC Destinations) The recent hosting of the first ever Thailand Halal Assembly in Bangkok further strengthened Thailand’s position to cater to Muslim travellers by providing Arabic speaking staff, halal food options, prayer facilities in the airport and Muslim-friendly hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions throughout the country.

Accessibility to Thailand continues to grow from the Middle East region with Qatar Airways boosting flights to Bangkok to four times a day as of December 2014 and Etihad Airways began direct flights from Abu Dhabi to Phuket since 26 October, 2014. The Airports of Thailand plan to expand Suvarnabhumi Airport in order to enhance the capacity of 45 million people per year to 60 million people per year. In October, Don Mueang International Airport will open its second terminal to increase the capacity to 30 million people per year. Phuket International Airport will also expand its capacity from 6.5 million to 12.5 million people per year.

Throughout the remainder of 2015, the TAT Dubai and Middle East Office will be implementing a range of marketing strategies to attract Middle East tourists through the “2015 Discover Thainess” campaign which includes ‘Thai Experience’, ‘Thai Way of Life’ and ‘Thai Culture’. The TAT Dubai and Middle East Office recently concluded a series of road shows in Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain as part of its promotional strategy to focus on niche segments; such as, Health and Wellness, Green Tourism, Gastronomy Tourism, and Shopping