The Tourism Authority of Thailand plans to restart marketing activity this summer but has ruled out discounts and lower prices as the way to encourage visitors back to the destination.

The destination hopes to raise awareness of Thailand for winter sun holidays at it approaches its key holiday season, from November to March.

TAT UK said this marketing will include TV programmes to inspire UK holidaymakers to visit in early 2021 as well as PR and other activity. It believes it could attract around half the normal number of UK visitors back to Thailand this winter.

The reactivation of above-the-line marketing plans comes as hoteliers, airlines and destination marketing companies tell a TAT ‘Friends of Thailand Club’ webinar they are positive about the future and that new health and safety measures will be key, rather than lower prices, to attracting visitors back in the post-pandemic travel market.

TAT UK & Ireland director Khun Chiravadee Khunsub said: “Thailand’s peak season is November to March and we are optimistic we can welcome back around 50% of our usual visitor numbers during this period.”

She added: “I am encouraged that 100% of our FoTC members agree that ‘discounting and lower price points’ is not the answer to recovery.

“Given that demand will be slow to return and hotels, for example, will be operating at a lower capacity to adhere to new healthy guidelines and provide ‘social distancing’ comfort to guests, it isn’t financially viable to cut prices and suppliers should provide quality services at a reasonable price. I think most customers will understand that holidays might come at a premium price  in return for a more comfortable experience.”

TAT has signed two year strategic deals with a number of key operators, both mainstream and specialists, in a bid to help the destination recover.

Thailand Expert, TAT’s travel agent portal, has seen a 229% growth in registrations over the last few months, and has 17 live webinar sessions set up with tour operator partners to help the trade ensure they are ready to sell Thailand when marketing ramps up.

TAT’s Friends of Thailand roadshows are still scheduled to take place on September 21 in Birmingham, September 22 in Bristol, and September 23 in Southampton, and agents are invited to register via the trade portal.

TAT is currently running marketing activity under a ‘Stay at Home Marketing & Education’ tagline which has included a Stay at Home Thai Style social media campaign, which reached 411,000 consumers in its launch week of April 20.

It is also launching its 12th Responsible Travel Awards in July to encourage holidaymakers to travel more responsibly and meaningfully in future.

Meanwhile, almost all 80 suppliers (97%) to Thailand told a TAT webinar they planned to implement new health and safety  measures to reassure customers post-pandemic, while 87% of them said communicating the health, safety and comfort measures would be key to their marketing once the market returns.

More than half, 55%, felt ‘ok’ and ‘positive’ about the future of the travel industry and from a personal perspective, 80% hoped to be travelling themselves again between July and December this year.

Khunsub said: “It is very encouraging to see that so many of our partners are proactively considering a health and safety message to help boost consumer confidence in travelling to Thailand again. This aligns with TAT’s own initiative ‘Safety & Health Association (SHA)’ certification which was announced last week; a new set of criteria to ensure consistent health standards across the travel industry in Thailand to protect both visitors and tourism personnel.”