The 15th Thailand Travel Mart+ is hosted for the first time in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand capital city, welcoming 345 sellers and 305 buyers from 55 countries as well some 100 international and local media.
TTM+2016 is not only about emphasizing Chiang Mai and the Northern region. A major focus of the show is to promote and develop sports tourism. “Thailand can be turned into ASEAN top sport destination as Thai people are turning vibrant over sports. More people practice today sport, such as biking, trekking, running or practice golf, tennis or football. Not to mention Muay Thai, our famous Thai boxing. We have multiple sports events, facilities, reasonable prices, high quality and above all the Thai sense of service and welcome”, stresses Thailand Minister of Sports and Tourism Her Excellency Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul.
They are some 3,000 sports events taking place in a year from small regional sport competition to international ones. “We have three international golf tournaments including the Honda LPGA dedicated exclusively to female golfers. Pattaya Jet Ski World Cup is one of the most attended event while Buriram in Isan is turning into Thailand world location for cars, motocross or superbikes races. Phuket Laguna Marathon is also turning into a world event”, added Mrs. Wattanavtangkul.
Promoting sport is one of Thailand’s strategies to raise the quality of tourists coming to the kingdom as well as promoting it as a family-oriented destination. “We want foreign travellers to use our national training centres which are located all across the country -in Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Saraburi and Songkhla- and offer superb top facilities. We also have in Phuket ASEAN first FINA training centre, dedicated to swimming annd sports. Thanyapuyra Sports Complex is also equipped with hotels and spa, ideal for long stays”, said the Minister.
Thailand has big ambitions but limited budget as conceded by the Minister. “We only have a budget for sport tourism reaching THB100 million (US$2.6 million). However this is only a beginning and we expect to invest significantly over the coming years”, acknowledged Mrs. Wattanavrangkul.
Asked if Thailand should have an iconic event like in Singapore, the Minister has a strong stance: “We do not need such an event. We think Thailand first which means that people thinking over sports should think about Thailand. However, some areas could be more associated with sports tourism. This is already the case of Buriram in northeastern Thailand. Pattaya and Phuket could be also popular sports destination as well as Prachaburi which could be positioned as a biking sport destination”, told the Minister.