SPECIAL ATF: Thailand Acknowledges the Existence of an LGBT Tourism

Thailand, marketing, LGBT

“Open to the New Shades” is Thailand new formulated tourism marketing campaign which highlight a tailor-made tourism experience to all types of travellers. And for the first time, TAT included,-in subtle tons- gay and lesbian travellers. “Open to the New Shades” indeed…

With the ASEAN Travel Forum kicking off in Chiang Mai on January 24, the round of media briefing of each ASEAN country is starting with highlight given to marketing strategies. As a host country, Thailand was first to explain what will be the target of 2018. The Kingdom continues to be the leading destination within ASEAN with 35.40 million foreign travellers (up by 8.77% over 2016), ASEAN alone generating 9.1 million arrivals (+6.2%).

Image result for tanes petsuwan“We exceeded last year all the forecasts. Among top ASEAN countries, Malaysia, Laos and Singapore generate over a million arrivals each. Vietnam should also join this “millionaire” club in 2018”, declared Tanes Petsuwan, Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications. Revenues from tourism are likely to have topped 53.34 billion dollars, a very important number for Thailand’s economy. In 2018, the Kingdom expects revenues to top 59.17 billion dollars, up by 8%.

“However it is not quantity which should now determine the future of our tourism. This is the core of our new campaign “Open to the New Shades” as Thailand offers for everyone an experience, in fact millions of different experiences”, indicated Mr. Petsuwan.

The emphasis is on segmentation with specific campaigns for niche markets. “These campaigns have been highly successful and in 2018 we will continue to emphasize tailor-made campaigns towards female travellers, seniors, first-time travellers, weddings and honeymoon, luxury travel or also sport tourism. Gastronomy will also serve as a thematic for the year, especially as we will host the UNWTO World Forum of Gastronomy”, added the Deputy Governor.

Thailand is effectively targeting niche markets. But curiously, the Kingdom had been shy to address by a targeted campaign the LGBT or diversity tourism. A reluctance that TAT executives in the past explained by a need to remain “neutral” to avoid hurting any market.

The new video over “Open to the New Shades” had in fact a few images where two male friends are seen watching a sun rise over a mountain, making a massage together and going dancing together in a club. Very briefly, they even hold their hands when watching the sun rising…

A very subtle soft approach which could appear like a revolution. Asked about it, Tanes Petsuwan acknowledged that Thailand means for travellers freedom and diversity. “We really want to customize our campaign to any market and segment. To let people have their own experience of Thailand. Well to keep opened to all the new shades of our Kingdom”, he said.

By integrating LGBT images into its worldwide campaign, Thailand is finally taking the diversity tourism market as a niche like any others. By moving into that niche, Thailand shows its maturity in tourism promotion. And is likely to probably win more travellers.

(To be followed by another story on TAT new strategy on regional tourism)