BANGKOK (Tourism Authority of Thailand) - The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has signed an agreement with four Chinese companies to boost the public profile of the kingdom and attract millions of Chinese visitors both in the immediate term as well as over the next five years.
Signed on September 22, 2005, the tourism pact was part of a wide-ranging series of agreements signed in the northern capital of Chiang Mai last week between Thai Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and his Chinese counterpart Wu Yi following a meeting of the Joint Committee on Trade, Investment and Economic Cooperation.
Wu Yi said stronger Thai-Chinese relations would create more opportunities for trade, investment and tourism in both countries, the entire ASEAN region and also the Greater Mekong Sub-region.
The tourism agreement involves three Chinese tour operators, China Comfort Travel, Beijing Jiendajiaqi International Travel Service, and Guangdong China International Travel Service as well as the public relations company, Publicitas China.
TAT’s role will be to coordinate with the companies in promoting and selling Thailand to the Chinese travelling public for the remainder of 2005 till 2010. This cooperation will be done through the provision of a variety of promotional collateral’s detailing the diverse range of tourist destinations and attractions, festivals and events, as well as other items on offer. Each company has stated that they will set a specific target per year in line with the target that TAT hopes to achieve. In 2006, TAT hopes to reach 1.5 million Chinese visitors.
The agreement with Publicitas China is designed to promote Thai tourism to a potential target audience of 200 million people in China with the objective of boosting Chinese visitor arrivals to three million by 2010.
Publicitas China will carry out events organization and marketing communications including public relations, advertising, media planning and media buying in a target oriented and measurable way.
It will also provide advisory services such as market research, identification of opportunities and competitive analysis.
Chinese authorities have undertaken to facilitate the promotion by granting Thailand unrestricted access to Chinese provinces and waiving some of the bureaucratic procedures. Thailand only has to inform the Chinese Ministry of Commerce so that the Chinese can coordinate with the provinces.
Chinese visitors to Thailand totalled 779,070 in 2004, comprising 6.69 % of total visitors and up 24.81% over 2003. They fell in the first half of 2005 due to the impact of the December 2004 tsunami but one of the major objectives of the Chiang Mai agreements is to get the numbers up again.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Somkid, the two countries aim to become strong strategic partners by boosting bilateral trade and investments and building a gateway for ASEAN markets through free trade agreements.
The spokesman said China’s Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, plans to visit Thailand at the end of 2005 to further strengthen bilateral relations.
“Thailand is looking forward to being an investment hub in the future,” Mr Somkid said, noting that the two countries had agreed to triple their bilateral trade target by 200% to US$45 billion (Bt1.8 trillion) and raise the investment target to US$6.5 billion.
Thai businesses also signed four agreements with Chinese companies on joint investments in various industries like oil and energy, transportation and the automotive sectors.
Thailand’s Trans Asia Logistics and China’s Kunming Transportation signed a deal to cooperate on a road transportation project in 2006 to link Thailand to Kunming in southern China, a move that will vastly facilitate travel to and within the Greater Mekong Subregion.
Thailand and China established ties in 1975. Two-way trade during the first eight months of the year grew 30% to US$13.9 billion and Chinese investments in Thailand tripled to US$200 million.