The German National Tourism Board DZT (Deutsche Zentrale fuer Tourismus) recently hold a round-table in Bangkok to look at ways to push the promotion of Germany as a holiday destination in Thailand. A more regional focus and more pro-active initiatives were demanded by local tour operators.
Germany wants to further boost its profile as a destination in Thailand despite being already one of the top European destinations for Thai travellers. In 2018, Thai tourists to the country missed by a few the symbolic number of 100,000 arrivals with a total of 96,000 trips. This number should however be reached in 2019 as total arrivals grew already by 7.7% during the first ten months, according to Thomas Bareiss, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy. ” We see a continuous potential from Asian travellers as purchasing power is growing and the expansion of the middle class,” he explained.
However, hurdles remain to promote more effectively Germany to Thailand – a concern that Germany could share with most of the other European countries. According to Jumpol Chadavadh, Managing Director of Regale International Travel Co. Ltd, an important tour operator in Thailand, Germany needs to be more aggressive when promoting itself on the Thai market and particularly to take a leading active role rather than just answering to requests.
The Thai market is often to “passive” in its perception of Germany, favouring only well-known destinations from Thai tourists. Munich and Bavaria. Rhine River cruises and Frankfurt as an important gateway are the top destinations for Thai travellers. There are however very few Thai travellers venturing into Northern Germany -from Hamburg to even Berlin- or to Southwestern and Eastern Germany. According to Annette Biener, newly appointed as the head of German Tourism in Southeast Asia, there is certainly a need to focus more on regional campaigns and highlight specific destinations in partnership with the private sector but also offices of tourism from German regions and cities. A more active role is to be taken in cooperation with Lufthansa.
Germany national carrier with its two affiliate Austrian Airlines and Swiss can play an important role as they offer up to four daily flights from Bangkok to Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna and Zurich. The four airports are ideally connected to the rest of Germany.
Another important issue remains visa. While Germany needs to follow criteria set by the European Union for Schengen countries, Germany could also play a role to make the issuing of tourist visas more flexible. ” We generally get a visa just for the exact total number of days requested. Which can turn into a logistic problem in case of an issue once in the country,” highlighted Putthiwat Pamornratanakul, Deputy Managing Director of Unity 2000 Tour.
The German embassy in Bangkok suggested that easier visa delivery could for example by provided to groups coming with top tour operators in Thailand. But what about other travellers? Online visa application would certainly be the solution for the future but once again this depends from Brussels – the seat of the EU commission- rather than from Berlin.
In=between, the promotion of Germany should gain a new dynamic with Annette Biener, who is really keen to dig into Southeast Asian markets by suggesting more tailor-made campaigns. A move that State Secretary Bareiss supports. “We need more creativity to attract travellers,” he acknowledged. Thematic trips, promotions to millennial individuals through social media, niche markets or multi-countries circuits are some of the ideas that the symposium looked at…