Thailand’s new tourism campaigns target niche groups (video)

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go thaiThai tourism promotion bodies have launched several campaigns addressing niche groups of travelers to spend their holidays in the kingdom. The campaigns are targeting categories of tourists that for reasons of political sensitivity or outright discrimination are shunned in some neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia or Singapore,the New York Times reported.

The new campaigns are tailor-made for homosexuals, Muslims and Israelis, underpinning Buddhist Thailand’s attitude as a widely liberal and tolerant country for a broad array of different travelers.

Muslims have developed into an important target group for Thai tourism. It is already popular with Arabs from the Gulf countries, especially for medical tourism, and hotels and resorts are increasingly stepping up their Muslim-related offers such as halal food, halal spas, prayer rooms and other facilities.

The annual number of Arab tourists from the Gulf countries alone is estimated at more than 150,000, with UAE, Qatar and Kuwait  leading the pack. While Saudi Arabian citizens are banned by their government from traveling to Thailand, many do via a third country. Furthermore, the new rising star in the tourism sector in Southeast Asia, Myanmar, has not yet proved its tolerance towards Muslims.

At the same time, Thailand actively promotes itself as a holiday destination for Israeli tourists, capitalising on the fact that Malaysia and Indonesia, both Muslim-majority countries, won’t let Israelis enter for political reasons. Thailand, by contrast, has long been one of the most popular destinations for Israeli travelers, with 120,000 Israelis visiting Thailand in 2012.

But the most recent campaign is aimed at homosexual people, gay and lesbian travelers alike. Emphasising its role as a tolerant, open and liberal country, Thailand is directly addressing  gay and lesbian couples with a range of government-sponsored advertising formats, among them the  “Go Thai. Be Free” campaign that points out the most popular destination for gay and lesbian visitors and features a “gay blog”.

This is fairly remarkable. In a number of other countries in the region, notably Brunei, Malaysia, Myanmar and Singapore, some or all forms of sexual contact between men and women are illegal and sometimes prosecuted,

Thailand has even been ranked the “hottest destination” for 2013, ahead of the US and Argentina, which were ranked second and third, by London-based gay marketing agency Boutique.

“We live in a country that is open and pretty liberal — I can’t think of a market that we wouldn’t welcome,” Wisoot Buachoom, the director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s office in of Chiang Mai, was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Thai tourism promotion bodies have launched several campaigns addressing niche groups of travelers to spend their holidays in the kingdom. The campaigns are targeting categories of tourists that for reasons of political sensitivity or outright discrimination are shunned in some neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia or Singapore,the New York Times reported.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

go thaiThai tourism promotion bodies have launched several campaigns addressing niche groups of travelers to spend their holidays in the kingdom. The campaigns are targeting categories of tourists that for reasons of political sensitivity or outright discrimination are shunned in some neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia or Singapore,the New York Times reported.

The new campaigns are tailor-made for homosexuals, Muslims and Israelis, underpinning Buddhist Thailand’s attitude as a widely liberal and tolerant country for a broad array of different travelers.

Muslims have developed into an important target group for Thai tourism. It is already popular with Arabs from the Gulf countries, especially for medical tourism, and hotels and resorts are increasingly stepping up their Muslim-related offers such as halal food, halal spas, prayer rooms and other facilities.

The annual number of Arab tourists from the Gulf countries alone is estimated at more than 150,000, with UAE, Qatar and Kuwait  leading the pack. While Saudi Arabian citizens are banned by their government from traveling to Thailand, many do via a third country. Furthermore, the new rising star in the tourism sector in Southeast Asia, Myanmar, has not yet proved its tolerance towards Muslims.

At the same time, Thailand actively promotes itself as a holiday destination for Israeli tourists, capitalising on the fact that Malaysia and Indonesia, both Muslim-majority countries, won’t let Israelis enter for political reasons. Thailand, by contrast, has long been one of the most popular destinations for Israeli travelers, with 120,000 Israelis visiting Thailand in 2012.

But the most recent campaign is aimed at homosexual people, gay and lesbian travelers alike. Emphasising its role as a tolerant, open and liberal country, Thailand is directly addressing  gay and lesbian couples with a range of government-sponsored advertising formats, among them the  “Go Thai. Be Free” campaign that points out the most popular destination for gay and lesbian visitors and features a “gay blog”.

This is fairly remarkable. In a number of other countries in the region, notably Brunei, Malaysia, Myanmar and Singapore, some or all forms of sexual contact between men and women are illegal and sometimes prosecuted,

Thailand has even been ranked the “hottest destination” for 2013, ahead of the US and Argentina, which were ranked second and third, by London-based gay marketing agency Boutique.

“We live in a country that is open and pretty liberal — I can’t think of a market that we wouldn’t welcome,” Wisoot Buachoom, the director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s office in of Chiang Mai, was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

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