The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has launched a virtual networking event to replace Thailand Travel Market, which was due to take place this week in Phuket.

The tourist authority’s first Thailand Tourism Virtual Market (TTVM) will offer a travel trade networking opportunity for Thai sellers to connect with the global travel industry online.

An international flight ban is in place for arrivals into Thailand until June 30, and the country has signalled its intention to reopen to tourism from July.

Buyers and sellers will have access to a suite of marketing tools to connect them with current and potential business partners and will be able to search for, negotiate and complete new and existing business deals via the platform.

Khun Chiravadee Khunsub, director of TAT London, said: “TTM+ 2020 would have been in full swing this week, due to be hosted in Phuket from June 1-3, but instead we are inviting our UK & Irish partners to conduct their business virtually this year via TTVM. We’re proud to offer this innovative solution to allow for business to continue as smoothly as possible especially in the run up to peak season and winter sun travel and Thailand looks to re-open to international visitors again.”

TTM+ hosts more than 30 operators at the event each year. This year, with travel restrictions in place, TAT says TTVM provides an opportunity for it to invite a greater number of operator partners and agents who contract directly with suppliers to network, discover new product and contract.

Features include business matching, a proposal submission system, a negotiations function and chat box. UK & Irish buyers are invited to start registering from June 1, and meet more than 300 sellers already online who it says have made more than 150 deals already.

TTVM is to be available 24/7, 365 days a year with no limitations on the numbers of buyers and sellers who can register. Governor of TAT, Yuthasak Supasorn, said: “It also reduces travel expenses and allows business to continue beyond uncontrollable external events. It will become a useful platform for monitoring trends, research and statistics, especially the use of big data for growing and tapping new source markets and business.”