The focus for Thailand’s medical and wellness tourism is moving from Europe to Asia and the Gulf. China and the Middle East is now a key target for the government to attracting good quality tourists’, particularly for medical tourism.
The Tourism Council of Thailand is expecting 29 million tourists to visit Thailand during 2015 but the country is still exposed to both political and economic risks.
The biggest rise is in visitors from China, with steady numbers from Japan and Myanmar, but a substantial fall in the number from Russia, and to a lesser extent across Europe- and these source changes are mirrored in where medical tourists come from. The European fall of 10% to 15% means local airlines have cut a long list of flights to and from European cities
For 2016, the government intends to attract good quality tourists that spend, rather than just increasing numbers. The Middle East is a target here, particularly for medical tourism and wellness. The UAE is the key market while newer countries include Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Oman.
A new visa available from October, is a six-month multiple entry visa that will cost $142 and allow visitors to stay half a year in Thailand.
The latest Thailand tourism development plan will help to improve the country’s competitiveness and improve connections to neighbouring countries.
The government has approved the draft of the Thailand Tourism Development Strategy Plan (2015 to 2017). The strategy covers both short and long-term goals and shifts the emphasis away from mass tourism to quality tourism measured by revenue earned and length of stay.
Under the three-year plan, the country will focus on generating tourism revenue with three strategies — tourism product and service development, tourism management and marketing.
Tourism ministers of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam have agreed on an action plan (2016 to 2018) to develop the region’s tourism industry, by:
- Promoting tourism under the tagline five countries one destination — Thailand and Vietnam are responsible on the plan;
- Developing product links in the region — Cambodia;
- Exchanging tourism information — Myanmar;
- Developing tourism products — Myanmar;
- Developing human resources — Thailand and Vietnam;
- Improving tourism safety — Vietnam;
- Studying private sector involvement in tourism — Laos and Vietnam.