Americans in Thailand
US tour operators have suggested Thailand train more hospitality professionals to support high-end visitors, whose ranks are expected to grow.
Terry Dale, president and chief executive of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), said Thailand has a huge opportunity to grow inbound tourism from the USA as the country could offer a variety of products and services related to its unique culture.
Although the country has offered good services to foreigners, it should improve overall service standards and train hospitality professionals to meet the requirements of high-end American visitors, he said.
“Americans like to see everything run thoroughly, with the exception of uncontrollable issues such as rain or traffic problems,” said Mr Dale. “All of this can be dealt with if you have more professionals.”
Japan is among the best-practice countries in Asia in terms of overall travel management, he said. The country has built awareness on a global scale ahead of big events like the Summer Olympics in 2020.
Mr Dale and members of USTOA are in Thailand this week, visiting major attractions in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. This is the first time association members have visited the country in search of business opportunities.
Thursday, 23 American and one Canada firm from the association met with 25 Thai operators working in such fields as destination management, airlines and hotels. Thailand Privilege Card Co, the operator of Thailand Elite Card, was also in attendance.
The USTOA has 56 members in the US and Canada, but 46% do not include Southeast Asia in their packages. The two sides are thus looking to drive up travel opportunities in Thailand.
Potential markets from the US are baby boomers, who are very high spenders. This cohort is also interested in gastronomy and wellness tourism, said Mr Dale.
The USTOA shows that 8.6 million Americans bought tourism products and services worldwide, worth US$10 billion (313 billion baht), last year.
Srisuda Wanapinyosak, deputy governor for international marketing in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas at the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said 1.06 million Americans travelled to Thailand in 2017, a figure that is expected to rise by 12% this year.
The agency plans to open a new office in Toronto next month to help boost arrivals from North America. HOL EP