PHUKET, 9 June 2022: Thailand’s annual travel show, Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM+), opened on Wednesday on Phuket Island after a two-year pause caused by Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions.
The first round of lockdowns skittled plans to stage the in-person TTM in Phuket in June 2020. Then extensive travel restrictions and complicated entry rules made it impractical to produce an in-person show in Phuket in 2021.
Yesterday’s opening ceremony was an emotional affair for the Tourism Authority of Thailand, which has been battling to revive tourism with mixed results due to Covid-19 restrictions. The show acts as a bellwether promising a substantial revival in tourist arrivals during the second half of the year to deliver up to 10 million visitors.
TAT is clinging to its well-travelled campaign tagline ‘Amazing Thailand’ and optimistically extends the slogan to include ‘Visit Thailand Year 2022 – 2023: Amazing New Chapters’. It delivers a marketing message that focuses on taking the country’s tourism to new heights of responsible and sustainable tourism goals.
Hosted at the Angsana Laguna Phuket, in Phuket, until 10 June, the TTM has registered 264 sellers and 276 buyers from 45 countries. Around 90 domestic and international media are also attending the event. Of the 264 sellers, there are 229 hotels, 13 tour companies, four entertainment venues, and three health and wellness operators.
Meanwhile, 45.7% of the international buyers joining TTM+ are first-time visitors and those who cannot still find their way to Phuket can still check out the virtual component of the show. No overseas buyers are attending from China as the country’s outbound tour market remains closed.
Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, officially declared the show open on Wednesday, followed by a TTM Talk themed “Global Tourism: Shapeshifting to the New Chapter.”
Rahimah Abdulrahim, director of public policy for Southeast Asia at Meta, presented’ Metaverse Possibility of Tourism Industry and Beyond’.
Mich Goh, head of public policy, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and India, Airbnb, presented ‘Driving Inclusive Tourism Recovery in Thailand with Airbnb’.
David Boehm, co-founder and chairman of Miskawaan Health Group, presented ‘The Future Trends of Health and Wellness Tourism’.
Two full days of buyer/seller appointments follow on 9 and 10 June, along with networking lunches and a networking dinner on Thursday hosted by the Phuket Tourist Association.
First held in 2001, the annual TTM remained in Bangkok until it moved to Chiang Mai in 2016 and 2017, Pattaya in 2018 and 2019.
Commenting on the most recent changes in entry rules that came into effect 1 June, Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn said: “Thailand celebrates its full opening for tourism with entry requirements further eased on 1 June. This year’s edition of the TTM+ presents an excellent opportunity for buyers and sellers to come together and build on existing business relationships and forge new ones.”
Due to travel restrictions, Thailand welcomed 428,000 overseas visitors in 2021. Arrivals increased to 1.3 million from January to May 2022. TAT forecasts 500,000 visitors per month from June to September and 1 million visitors from October to December. That would give the country 6.3 million visitors for the entire year, a drop in the ocean compared with the 39 million visits recorded in 2019.