Vang Vieng, Lao PDR

Beyond Bangkok: Thailand promoting secondary cities

The Tourism Authority of Thailand is expecting that more visitors from the Philippines will be visiting the Land of Smiles in 2019 after a good showing in 2018, with an executive from the tourism authority said that they will be promoting secondary cities this year in order for tourists to discover more of Thailand.

“We don’t need to promote Bangkok anymore, because everyone is already familiar with Bangkok, so this year we have a campaign [promoting] secondary cities or the non-primary cities like Chiang Mai, Phuket, Pattaya, or Hua Hin,” Kajorndet Apichartrakul, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand for Singapore and the Philippines, told the media during a media event on Feb. 9 at the Travel Tour Expo in SMX, Pasay City.

He said Thailand welcomed 430,000 Filipinos in 2018, a 13% increase from the previous year

“Last year, we achieved a remarkable number of Filipino visitors to Thailand — the number hit 430,000,” he said before adding that they are expecting 15% growth in 2019.

Mr. Apichartrakul said some of the reasons why they are keen to push cities outside of Bangkok is to lessen the worsening traffic congestion in the capital city (a 2017 report by US-based transportation analytics firm Inrix, named Bangkok as the most congested country in the world) and to attract repeat tourists.

Repeat tourists from the Philippines range between 30% to 40%, he said.

“They are quite different in terms of nature, the culture, and the geography,” he said of the secondary cities before noting that Filipinos who love the cooler temperatures in Baguio will love the cooler temperatures of Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai is located in the mountainous region of northern Thailand, with an average elevation of 310 meters above sea level. Its Old City area is considered a cultural and religious centre as it retains vestiges of walls and moats from its past. Chiang Mai is also home to hundreds of Buddhist temples, including the 15th century Wat Chedi Luang and the 14th century Wat Phra Singh.

Meanwhile, Hua Hin, Pattaya, and Phuket are all resort destinations.

The promotion of secondary cities is shaping up to be a long-term plan for the authority as Mr. Apichartrakul said that the Thai government is trying to “facilitate transportation and traffic from Bangkok to other cities” to make it easier for travellers to enter Bangkok and move onward to other cities.

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