Monday, 12 April 2021
TCEB’S first Thailand MICE Virtual Expo presents a vital snapshot of Thailand’s MICE market, attracts 7,755 participants from 33 countries
7,755 online participants from 33 countries participated with over 580 business-matching sessions in the first Thailand MICE Virtual Expo organised by Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB). Held from February 24–25, 2021, the event gave international MICE buyers and stakeholders a timely update on Thailand’s MICE market and what industry leaders are doing to ensure business continuity and competitiveness.
TCEB President, Mr Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, said: “Exhibitors at TCEB’s Thailand MICE Virtual Expo appreciated the opportunity to connect with international buyers during this time of uncertainty and separation. It was important for all of us in MICE to continue building relationships with prospective clients so that Thailand remains an attractive and promising destination in our client’s consciousness. TCEB’s virtual expo is a credible, industry-supported platform designed to fulfil this need for interaction and knowledge-exchange. The business-matching sessions are geared towards business development while the webinars highlighted the outlook and opportunities in Thailand’s key industries and how MICE can help entrepreneurs and investors in these industries grow their businesses.”
There were eight webinars featuring 17 speakers from Thailand’s key strategic industries. The speakers shared their experiences in the new normal and their strategies for MICE going forward. The webinar on Thai food industry, for example, highlighted the innovative hybrid format the Department of International Trade Promotion adopted to promote Thai food products among overseas buyers who were not able to travel to Thailand.
Many of the webinar speakers also noted that digitalisation is more than just a new way to meet but also a powerful tool for ecosystem development, omni-channel engagement and partnerships. A recurring comment was the need to exploit the true power of digital and not use it to solely replicate a physical meeting.
The virtual expo was not all business and trade. There were also eight fun and breezy cultural workshops presented by six personable instructors whose subjects – photography, food, Muay Thai, puppetry, Thai massage, and floral arrangement – can add a distinctively Thai flavour to any MICE programme.
During and since the pandemic, turnover in the tourism industry had fallen to around 40 per cent of comparable 2019 figures, Wei said. The administration has paid several billion yuan from existing insurance funds to travel agencies, municipalities and tour operators to facilitate a new concept with pandemic-compliant standards for the tourism industry.
At the same time, an 11-point programme completely restructuring city tourism has been implemented. It includes hygiene and prevention concepts and a no-reservation-no-travel rule.
With international tourism arrivals more or less at a standstill, the authorities have placed a strategic focus on domestic tourism. Initial success is already evident, Wei said. Thus, following the pandemic, tourism growth in Beijing has been significantly higher than the country’s average. The capital continues to be among the ten most-visited tourist attractions.
The Universal Studios Park, due to open on schedule this year, promises to be a huge attraction for domestic tourists, Wei said. Tourism attractions also include city tourism in “Fantastic Beijing suburbs“ and railway trips across the mega-city. Overall, the strategy’s slogan is “a better city life through tourism“.
Sunday, 11 April 2021
H.E. Mr. Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Minister of Tourism and Sports, presided over the welcoming ceremony, which took place this afternoon at the TAT Head Office. Also present at the event were Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor, and members of the TAT’s management as well as staff.
Minister Phiphat presented a token of appreciation to Mr. Nawat Itsaragrisil, President of the Miss Grand International and Ms. Valentina Figuera, Miss Grand International 2019.
“I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the organisers of the Miss Grand International 2020 pageant for strictly following Thailand’s public health measures in their arrangement for this year’s contest. I am delighted to see that all contestants are staying healthy and getting ready for the contest in the next two weeks,” Minister Phiphat said.
After arriving in Bangkok on 28 February, all Miss Grand International 2020 contestants have spent two weeks in Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) in Thailand as required under nationwide regulations to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19.
To help break the boredom of quarantine for the contestants, TAT has helped to enhance and enrich the Amazing Thailand Happy Quarantine activities by providing a ‘Happy DIY Set’ for each of them to explore their creativity while waiting to clear quarantine.
The Happy DIY Sets include an iconic Krajood woven bag from the Thale Noi Community in Phatthalung province; a set of cloth mask with neck strap (either a batik cloth mask from the Sao Thong Tong Community in Nakhon Si Thammarat and a pearl neck strap from Phuket, or an indigo-dyed cloth mask that comes with a neck strap made from an indigo-dyed bobbin from the Nakham Community in Sakon Nakhon); a pair of woven water hyacinth slippers from the Ban Non Champa Community in Buri Ram, and a set of Benjarong ceramic from Ban Don Kai Di Community in Samut Sakhon.
In addition, the contestants have experienced “Thainess” through some fun activities; such as, the Thai cooking class by trying their hands at making Phat Thai, Som Tam and grilled chicken.
This morning, all contestants dressing in a Thai costume visited the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Thailand’s iconic attraction.
Miss Grand International 2020 is the 8th Miss Grand International pageant, scheduled to be held on 27 March, 2021, at Show DC Hall in Bangkok. Prior to the grand finale, all 63 contestants are currently enjoying a series of activities that showcase the charm of Thailand’s culture and attractions.
Mt. Fuji is equally enchanting when it’s snow-capped in winter or framed by golden leaves in autumn, when it’s shrouded in ethereal clouds.
“We are keeping the dream of a trip to Australia alive“, said Phillipa Harrison, managing director of Tourism Australia, who joined the ITB Berlin NOW press conference live from Sydney. At present, no one knows when Australia will be opening its borders to international tourists again. “We expect the entire population to be vaccinated by October, after which we can consider taking first steps to open again“, Harrison said. Tight restrictions had helped Australia come through the pandemic relatively unscathed, with 30,000 coronavirus cases and 1,000 deaths. This was not a situation one was prepared to risk by prematurely opening up. The focus last year was on domestic tourism, as it was at many other destinations. As a result, some parts of Australia’s tourism industry had fared quite well, while naturally regions particularly dependent on international visitors were struggling.
All the same, Phillipa Harrison called for people to accept tighter restrictions for Covid-19 and to learn to live with the virus so that one could slowly return to a new normal. The first step towards opening borders could be to allow entry to visitors from countries with high vaccination levels, Harrison said. Moreover, Australian tourism authorities are ready and waiting to offer visitors as soon as possible everything that the country stands for: spectacular nature, fascinating wildlife and friendly people. “We have everything to soothe travellers’ souls, and everything they have missed.“ The coronavirus had triggered even greater interest in responsible and sustainable tourism, Harrison said. “We have the products to meet changing travel behaviour after the pandemic.“
One of Australian tourism’s key products is indigenous tours, enabling visitors to find out about the aboriginal culture. Nicole Mitchell, project manager for Tourism Australia, said that aborigines had been taking care of the land for over 50,000 years. It, therefore, made sense to listen to people who had lived the country’s history and whose stories were those that made Australia so special. “All around the country, there are opportunities to gain a close insight into aboriginal culture. These encounters make nature come alive.“ For only those who understood could really see. Tourism had the ability to help us understand ways of life that were not our own. “By sharing culture we keep it alive“, Mitchell said.
Saturday, 10 April 2021
SAii makes an instant impression as two inaugural island resorts in Thailand receive rave reviews from experience-seeking guests
SAii derives from the phonetic sounds of the Thai words for “sand” and “pathway”, and these two breath-taking beachfront resorts take experience-seeking guests on a sustainable travel journey in two of Thailand’s most enticing island destinations. Targeted at “InSAiiders”, the brand’s unique term for its millennially-minded clientele, SAii strives to creates meaningful guest journeys, from “Hello” (a warm Thai welcome) to “Hub” (the social heart of the resort), “Sleep” (comforting rooms, suites and villas), “Play” (the resorts’ activities), “Treat” (creative culinary offerings), “Live” (exceptional events) and “SAii For Now” (a heartfelt farewell).
Before they opened, both resorts underwent extensive renovations that brought to life a series of innovative F&B and wellness concepts. Mr. Tomyam focuses on Thai-inspired dishes with live kitchens and alfresco seating, while Miss Olive Oyl is a vibrant Mediterranean-style seafood grill and bar. Lèn Be Well promises a personalised approach to wellbeing, and the M.I.Y Aroma Lab lets guests mix their own organic bathroom amenities. With so many extraordinary elements and picturesque viewpoints at each resort, the opportunities for capturing Insta-friendly moments and memories are almost endless!
SAii’s environmental and sustainable ethos flows through every aspect of the brand’s operations, from energy and waste reduction to recycling, CSR and more. Underpinning this deep commitment are the popular Marine Discovery Centres; innovative and interactive hubs that support a wide range of activities, including coral propagation, breeding and release programmes for native species, eco-excursions for guests, and educational visits by local schools. Currently available at SAii Phi Phi Island Village and SAii Lagoon Maldives, and led by resident marine biologists, these ground-breaking facilities feature indoor and outdoor exhibition areas, video rooms and aquariums, presenting a fascinating window into the underwater world.
Many travellers are now seeking social distancing and fewer physical touchpoints, so SAii’s handheld concierge app enables every inSAiider to enjoy contactless interaction, including in-room requests, room service orders, excursion bookings and the ability to chat with the resort’s team of “SAillanders” 24 hours a day.
The reaction to SAii Laguna Phuket and SAii Phi Phi Island Village has been overwhelming. Not only are both resorts leading their competitors in terms of market share, but customer feedback has been almost exclusively positive. For example, TripAdvisor user Lumule, who visited SAii Laguna Phuket in February 2021, called it an “Amazing resort in the perfect location”, while Phuket Girl hailed the “helpful and friendly [staff]” and “lovely beach”. Ben A. was delighted with the resort’s “Great service, excellent food and lots of activities”. “Would definitely recommend to friends and we will be back ourselves,” they added.
SAii Phi Phi Island Village has also been receiving rave reviews. “We fell in love with everything here, from [the] view to [the] service,” said Mickey C, who stayed in February 2021. Meanwhile, Anand Roy called it a “must-stay” destination, and Piyanat T. simply said that SAii Phi Phi Island Village is “The best resort I’ve been to”.
Both resorts are currently showing TripAdvisor bubble ratings of 4.5 out of 5, and the reviews clearly show how visitors are embracing the “SAiisational” experiences. Part of the reason behind SAii’s success is how well it has resonated with the local market. As a homegrown brand, SAii has many brand elements that feel authentically Thai, such as its fun, friendly and free-spirited vibe. During the current international travel restrictions, S Hotels & Resorts has targeted the Thai and expat markets; 90% of guests at SAii Phi Phi Island Village are Thai nationals, while the local expat community has accounted for 70% of bookings at SAii Laguna Phuket.
The two sister resorts are now working on cross-selling opportunities, to maximise the benefits of these two important sectors. An attractive new website and booking engine has helped to drive more direct reservations, and next-generation revenue management, channel management and business intelligence solutions are optimising the performance of both resorts.
SAii Laguna Phuket and SAii Phi Phi Island Village are following in the footsteps of SAii Lagoon Maldives, which opened in 2019 at CROSSROADS Maldives, Singha Estate’s ground-breaking integrated resort in the Indian Ocean. This idyllic retreat has already achieved TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Award in 2020, while its restaurant, Miss Olive Oyl, and Lèn Be Well spa were honoured in the 2020 World Luxury Restaurant Awards and World Luxury Spa Awards respectively. These outlets are now available at the SAii resorts in Thailand.
“We are thrilled with the response to our first two SAii resorts in Thailand. Thai residents, including expats, have really taken this homegrown brand to their hearts, and we cannot thank our customers enough for their support. This acclaim, along with the popularity of SAii Lagoon Maldives, gives us great confidence in the future. We hope that international borders will fully reopen soon, and that more international travellers will be able to experience the warm and gracious Thai hospitality that SAii specialises in. We are also seeking opportunities to expand into new and highly desirable destinations worldwide,” said Dirk De Cuyper, CEO, S Hotels & Resorts.
The launch of Thailand’s first two SAii resorts will kickstart an exciting era of expansion for S Hotels & Resorts, driven by the roll-out of SAii and its sister brand nābor (“neighbour”), an alternative collection of locally-inspired “luxury-midscale” hotels and resorts. The group currently operates 39 hotels and resorts on three continents, totalling more than 4,600 keys, but it is aiming to double this portfolio by 2025.
Ho Chi Minh City continues to promote unique tourism types, research and develop tourism products associated with history, culture and architecture, promote shopping tourism, MICE tourism, river tourism...
In addition, Ho Chi Minh City tourism also promotes local tours (city tour) and short-term tours in the Southwest and Southeast. Some travel companies in Ho Chi Minh City have introduced a new tour traveling by private cars to prevent epidemic.
Speaking at the meeting, Chairman Nguyen Trung Khanh highly appreciated the tourism performance of Ho Chi Minh City, demonstrating its role as a leading tourist hub, connecting with other localities.
The Chairman informed that leaders of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and VNAT support the establishment of the Tourism Development Council to coordinate the cooperation between HCM City and 13 provinces/cities of Mekong river delta.
VNAT will stand side by side with the localities to support the linkage, specifically in terms of information on orientations, tourism development strategies and plans; support joint activities for product development, tourism promotion; tourism human resource development and attracting investment in tourism.
VNAT also agreed with the organization of ITE HCMC 2021 (due in September or November). ITE HCMC is a prestigious annual tourism event of the Vietnam tourism industry, the Chairman said.
Regarding the initiative to honor Vietnam's attractive destinations, Chairman Nguyen Trung Khanh said that this is a good idea to stimulate domestic tourism, promote new and attractive destinations, thereby stimulating the need for travel and exploration of Vietnamese.
VNAT will establish a council and joins with localities to choose the most deserving destination. The initiative will be announced at the forum on linking tourism between Ho Chi Minh City and the North Central provinces to be held in Nghe An in May.
According to plan, VNAT will work with 5 hub tourism localities including Ha Noi, Ninh Binh, Da Nang, Khanh Hoa and HCM City about the stimulate domestic tourism program in 2021.
Spring is finally here and with it the advance of cherry blossoms. After long winter months, combined with lockdowns, there's more of a reason than ever to want to experience the majestic blooms. To experience "Sakura Zensen", digital travel platform Agoda shares ideas of where to experience hints of pink at home and around the world.
Agoda's GoLocal Survey has shown a third of travelers across the globe cite "Nature" as their preferred type of holiday destination, making national parks or gardens an ideal getaway to get off the grid and be surrounded by spring buds.
- 60,500 properties in Indonesia
- 39% of travelers chose Nature as their preferred destination type.
The sakura trees in Cibodas Botanical Garden blooms twice a year. First bloom in February to March, the second between July to August due to Indonesia's two season climate. Enjoy a nearby luxurious stay at Le Eminence Puncak Hotel Convention and Resort and wake up to a picturesque mountain view.
East Sumba, East Nusa Tenggara
Fret not if you miss the March or April blooms elsewhere, catch sakura in October at Waingapu as well! For those who enjoy culture, check out the local ikat stores and workshops, and traders lugging bundles of textiles around town. Book a weekend getaway at the Padadita Beach Hotel and enjoy the sea views from the pool terrace.
- 86,000 properties on Agoda.com
Hot on the lips of locals-in-the-know is Tokyo's Yanaka neighborhood which offers travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves in authentic Japanese culture, where traditional ways of life are still part of the neighborhood's daily routine. Springtime sees Tokyo's Yoyogi Park and Meguro River alive with color, but don't miss out on an alternative yet beautiful way to see these blossoms in full force at Yanaka Cemetry which bursts with expansive cherry trees. Stay at LANDABOUT TOKYO, a modern space that comes with a café and right by the JR station.
In April, be sure to head up North. Get lost in narrow labyrinthian pathways where visitors can enjoy breath-taking views of the blooming cherry blossoms against the picturesque Mt. Fuji. By day, Nagasaki Park is a popular spot for many locals to enjoy hanami (flower viewing) sessions under the white and pink cherry blossoms. By night, find respite at Wajoen Ryokan that comes with its own hot spring bathhouse, and located close by wineries and the Takeda Shrine.
- 29,000 properties on Agoda.com
- 33% of travelers chose Nature as their preferred type of destination
Look no further than the capital for a dose of Cherry Blossoms. Take a stroll along the lake at Seoul Grand Park, or visit the Seoul palaces, which make great spots to admire and capture the bloom, while learning about Korea's rich history and architecture. Retire at the Walkerhill Douglas House, for further nature respite as the hotel is surrounded by woodland, and is designed to offer a relaxing ambience for guests.
Jeju is the top travel destination in Korea. It was the top destination for Lunar New Year 2021 and the second popular destination for New Year 2020 according to Agoda booking data. In late March, book a stay at the new Hotel Seogwipean, a stylish minimalist hotel that is close to the downtown area to see Jeju's King Cherry Tree blossom, whose cherry blossoms have the largest petals of all the cherry trees.
- 37,600 properties in Malaysia
Malaysians can revel in the fact that Malaysia has its own 'sakura season'. Every year from February to April, the city streets of Alor Setar are lined with ethereal trails of pink and white. Known as Tecoma trees, these flowers resembling cherry blossoms transform the city. While the blooms can be found in most parts of the city, by far the best-known hotspots are along Jalan Kuala Kedah and Jalan Langgar. Stay at the Hotel Royale Signature, a stone's throw from popular landmarks like Amand Central and Menara Alor Setar Tower.
Venturing down South, another destination boasts dazzling Tecoma blooms alongside its famous food, culture and heritage; Penang. Known by their local name as 'tissue paper trees' or 'trumpet flower trees', these beautiful flowers typically bloom during the dry season between February and April, carpeting the roads with petals of pink, white and purple. Book a stay at the Lone Pine Boutique Hotel, right at the beach at Batu Ferringhi.
- 22,000 properties in the Philippines
More than just known for its pristine beaches, majestic underwater flora and fauna, and Puerto Princesa's world-renowned Underground River, Palawan offers another remarkable attraction—the Philippines' own cherry blossoms. Known as the balayong or the Palawan Cherry, these trees produce white and pink flowers that bloom every March to April. They are being cultivated by the local government with the aim of creating its own sakura park. Take a weekend trip and stay at Hue Hotel and Resorts Puerto Princesa, which is also a pet-friendly hotel.
Closer to Manila, Dasmariñas, Cavite also boasts its own faux cherry blossoms. The dainty pastel pink blooms are a product of Trumpet Trees—a distant cousin of Japan's sakura trees which fall just as gracefully, leaving delicate sheet of color across its surroundings. Spend a romantic weekend at the Mount Sea Resort, lazing away the afternoon by the pool and taking evening walks close to nature.
- 18,000 properties in Taiwan
- Nature is the top preferred destination for Taiwanese compared to other markets globally, where 35% of travelers chose Nature as their preferred destination.
Wuling Farm is one of the most popular cherry blossoms viewing spots in Taiwan, with over 20,000 cherry trees. In addition to staying overnight at Wuling Farm Guest House, visitors can also join day tours of farm to enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms.
Take an hour drive from Puli Township to the tranquil AOWANDA National Forest Recreation Area located behind the Wanda Reservoir, home to the indigenous tribes of Sediq and Atayal. In addition to an abundance of cherry blossoms and butterflies in Spring, visit the majestic "AOWANDA Bridge" that connects the beautiful pine forest area and the intersection of the north and south streams of AOWANDA River. Spend a night at Top Cloud Villa, Nantou to star gaze on a clear night.
- 65,000 properties on Agoda.com
- 36% of travelers chose Nature as their preferred type of destination.
To experience Thailand's cherry blossom, Chompoo Pantip, head to Kasetsart University which boasts more than 200 Chompoo Pantip blossom trees. Full bloom happens only once a year in March/April, where the trees on both sides of the street are adorned with pink flowers forming a romantic pathway and covers the landscape with soft pink petals. End the day by staying overnight at RK Riverside Resort and Spa.
Travelers unable to experience Chompoo Pantip, could still be tinkled pink to find the Thale Noi Waterfowl Reserve's blooming pink lotuses (Thale Noi, Phatthalung). Truly a sight to behold, the reserve is also the home to hundred species of birds. Stay at the Sripakpra Boutique Resort and wake up the lush greenery and flora.
- 39,500 properties in Vietnam
- 37% of travelers chose Nature as their preferred destination type.
Making up for closed borders and what would have been an international trip to Japan, Nhat Tan Cherry Blossom village has a unique dark pink shade of cherry blossom trees, curated by local gardeners. Accompanying these beautiful spring views are cooler temperatures, making for a delightful holiday from the hustle and bustle of city life. Sofitel Legend Metropole offers a warm welcome and relaxing getaway.
With close to 3000 bright pink Cherry Blossom trees, Da Lat is exceptional in the Spring and known as the City of Flowers These blossoms are popular for their unique shape, reflecting five leaf apricot trees. For a truly ravishing sight, walk through the city at sunrise. Spend the weekend at the newly opened Terracotta Hotel and Resort Dalat that has its own garden that comes with their own pink blooms.
A popular spot for tourists and locals alike, Ha Giang's natural beauty is astounding in Spring. The city's natural landscape encapsulates cherry blossoms along its windy roads through Quan Ba, Yen Minh and Meo Vac. It's nestled among mountains, making for magnificent views. Stay at the Phoenix Hotel, where it's near popular landmarks like the Thon Tha Village.
The survey was commission by Agoda and conducted by Kantar Profiles Network in June 2020. More than 2300 people across eight markets were surveyed. These are: Australia, Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and USA.
Friday, 9 April 2021
- We are grateful that the Thai Government is recognising the urgency and importance of tourism and the need to help people dependent on international tourism. Thank you.
- Open Thailand Safely urges Government officials to grasp the new opportunities that the successful rollout of vaccinations has given the world. The vaccines are a game-changer for tourism. This is the good news we have been waiting for.
- Any form of quarantine is ‘old’ thinking. Tourism in Thailand cannot recover with ANY kind of quarantine.
- Other countries such as Maldives, Greece, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Costa Rica and others realise this and are opening their destinations with NO quarantine. Thailand should do the same, otherwise tourists will simply go elsewhere.
“Safe opening of Thailand with proof of vaccination should occur anytime between 1st of June and 1st of July 2021. This would give the tourism industry some time to prepare. Leaving it until October would be too late. Many companies won’t exist by then.”
“A June-July reopening would be a strategic opportunity for Thailand to show a leadership role among Asian countries and prepare the way for a solid recovery of the Thai economy” said Willem Niemeijer, CEO, YAANA Ventures and Co-Founder of the Open Thailand Safely campaign (along with Luzi Matzig, Chairman of Asian Trails and William E. Heinecke Chairman of The Minor Group).