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Wednesday, 30 December, 2015, 13 : 00 PM [IST]

Andaman Travel Trade 2015: A fillip to the tourism industry of Thailand

Generating tremendous response from the industry, the 2015 edition of the Andaman Travel Trade, proved to be a game changer for the tourism suppliers of the Andaman region in Thailand. Prasenjit Chakraborty throws light on how the 2-day event received a robust response from the tourism industry at large across the globe
Dubbed as ‘Discover Andaman-Explore Happiness’, the 7th biennial Andaman Travel Trade was held on December 10 and 11, 2015 at Rajaphat University Hall, Phuket, Thailand. The event was organised by the Phuket Tourist Association in cooperation with Phuket Tourism and Sports Office, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Tourism Association of the Andaman Provinces.

The objective of the event was to provide tourism business operators in the Andaman provinces an opportunity to showcase their products and services to their international counterparts. “This will allow the international representatives to be updated on the new tourist attractions as well as receive an increased understanding about the tourism situation in the Andaman region,” opined Sathirapong Na Takuatoong, President, Phuket Tourist Association.

The trade show witnessed participation from tour companies, hotels, resorts, rental car companies and airlines. Besides this, TAT through its 27 overseas offices, had invited 226 representatives from tour companies across the world to discuss business and negotiate deals with Thai tourism product and service providers. The local tour operators presented prominent aspects of each province as their selling point. There were 108 booths at the marketplace.

Andaman in Focus
Inaugurating the event, Chamroen Tipayapongtada, Governor, Phuket Province, said that the 7th Andaman Travel Trade 2015, is held to promote the tourism industry in the 5 provinces along Thailand’s Andaman coast. “In addition to business negotiations, the participating travel agencies from abroad will also be able to gain complete and accurate information about our tourist attractions and relevant services for their customers, and we hope this will help boost the demand for travel to this region and increase arrivals within and between the Andaman provinces,” he said. Tipayapongtada also thanked TAT, the Phuket Tourism and Sports Office, and the Phuket Tourist Association for their impressive collaboration in organising the Andaman Travel Trade for the 7th consecutive year.

Speaking on the occasion, Juthaporn Rerngronasa, Deputy Governor, International Marketing, Phuket said that the purpose of the event is to bring together representatives of leading tour companies worldwide to meet with tourism entrepreneurs from the 5 provinces of Andaman Sea to promote their products directly to customers. She added that tourist arrival to the region is witnessing a surge. “In 2013, the number of tourists was 19.3 million and the figure increased to 21.5 million in 2014. Thus, the goal of organising Andaman Travel Trade is to reach the figure to 25 million in 2016,” she said. According to her, the tourism income of 5 provinces of Andaman Sea in 2013 was THB 320,000; in 2014 the figure increased to THB 360,000 million and in 2015, there is an expectation that it will reach THB 400,000.

Product Showcase
The exhibition not only promoted sea and beaches, but also other interesting products and activities like adventure sight seeing, water sports, etc. were also showcased. Said Purit Maswongs, Vice President, Foreign Marketing Section, Phuket, “Normally we promote sea and beach at this fair, but this year, the event will also showcase each province’s individual product which will facilitate to explore new tourism opportunity. This will open a new vista for marketing as well. The opportunities for new tourism marketing are mineral water resources in Ranong, water activity in Phuket, and adventure sight seeing in Phang Nga,” said Maswongs.

Targeting Indian market in a big way

The exhibition is helpful for many Indian travel agents as there were some new products in focus, e.g. Flying Hanuman (fly from tree to tree) which is rated as one of the top rainforests experience in South East Asia. Flying Hanuman offers an opporuntiy to see the unseen face of Phuket, the pearl of the Andaman. After flying from tree to tree, one will know that there is more than sea, sun and sand in Phuket.

Most of the Indian travel agents TravelBiz Monitor spoke to were unanimous in their opinion that they came to know about the Flying Hanuman after attending this year’s mart. “After going back to India, we will start sell Flying Hanuman as a product to the Indian tourists,” said a travel agent from India.

Similarly, Aqua Project is another experience that was a major highlight. It is a Dolphin show, and Indian tourists are showing keen interest to experience it. “Aqua Project is a Dolphin show in Phuket, opened just 2 months ago. Barring Monday, the show is held on all the days and duration of each show is 45 minutes. We have started marketing the product in India and getting positive response from the market. No doubt, India is of the main markets for us,” said Kamonwan Phongsathianrangsee, Sales Executive, Phuket Aqua Project Co Ltd.

Similarly, Siriluck Saelim, Manager, Sales & Spa, The Royal Paradise Hotel & Spa, opined that the trade show will help welcome Indian guests. “The exhibition offers us an opportunity to sell our products. Currently, we are getting moderate number of Indian guests to our hotel and we want to increase the number using this platform. Mostly, MICE and incentive groups from India are coming to our hotel.” Therefore, not surprising, for Silver Hawk Group, which offers cruise services, India has emerged as one of the main source markets. Speaking about the potential of India, Natiya Vongyai, Managing Director, Silver Hawk, said, “We provide luxury services for the Indian market and our customers (from India) fall in the category of MICE, wedding and birthday parties. We get customers from Mumbai and New Delhi; of late we have started getting customers from cities like Chennai and Hyderabad.”

Paradise Beach (offering beach activities), which opened in November this year, is also looking for an agency in India to market their products. “Our target group in India comprises wedding, honeymooners and families. Weeding segment is huge in India and we are trying our best to tap the market,” said Orapin Kitpadung, Sr. Marketing & Sales, Paradise Beach.

Indian Buyers’ Speak
“This exhibition is a good platform. Generally at other trade fairs like ATF, WTM, ITCMA, only reputed hotels participate. At this exhibition, smaller hotels are showcasing their products. One of the unique elements this time is a service provider who offers activities (snorkelling, boat riding, sking, etc.) in Patong beach alone for THB 500 per day is also participating. It means buyers can cater to all types of customers. This exhibition will help us create newer products like Ranong, Trang, etc.”- K Vijay Mohan, MD, Holiday World.

“The tradeshow is good and informative. After coming here I met with representatives of new hotels and properties. We found a new connection from Lucknow to Phuket and Krabi. The new connection is TigerAir have already started flying from Lucknow (via Singapore) to Phuket and Krabi to Bangkok. This is a good platform to develop B2B market. I will now develop new packages for Phuket and Krabi,” SMA Sheeraz, Sheeraz Tours (P) Ltd

“The event is smaller in size than what I expected. Exhibitors are mostly from hotels which is not so useful for us. I was looking for B2B tour operators based out of Thailand, but they are very few in number. So it turns out to be a networking event and then we do the follow up meetings. The event is good for large travel agents who can directly have contracts with hotels. In my opinion medium and small travel agents would not benefit much from this exhibition,” Debayan Ghosh, Destination Strategist (Thailand, Hong Kong, Macau), Travel Triangle.

“Andaman Travel Trade turned out to be a very informative event. There are varieties of hotels catering to family and honeymooners. After coming here, I could sell private yatch party, Sunset Caterman Cruises and Flying Hanuman. My biggest take away from the travel mart is getting introduced to newer hotel properties and sight seeing activities,” Sameer Lele, Proprietor, Sam-San Travels

“I managed to meet around 42 suppliers/hoteliers. In the days to come, we are expecting a surge in queries for Thailand packages. Thailand has always been one of the most favourite destinations to sell and will remain so in the future,” Gurjeet S Chhabra, CEO, World of Travel

“The exhibition is good in terms of location, ambience and interiors. Suppliers are mostly from hotels and catering to higher segment of travellers. There are only 2-3 budget hotels participating, that too from Phuket. I expected organisers to include more budget hotels in the next edition,” Gaurav Mittal, Proprietor, Earth International Holiday.
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