The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s latest campaign is raising awareness of the destination through its gastronomy. Andrew Doherty reports.
The abundance of Thai eateries in my corner of London means I’ve lost count of how many pad thais and beef kwetiaus I’ve eaten. Like many Brits I have a keen taste for Thai food and it’s something the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is keen to exploit with its new foodie-themed marketing campaign, Eat Thai, Visit Thai.
Overseen by prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the TAT governor, Yuthasak Supasorn, and seven Thai restaurant groups in the UK – Busaba Eathai, Koh Thai,
Minor Group, Giggling Squid, Thai Leisure Group, Thai Square and Rosa’s Thai Cafe.
Chris Lee, head of marketing, TAT, explained why promoting food was on the agenda.
“Tourism in Thailand has grown so significantly over the years, and we’re nearly at one million visitors from the UK alone. How do we go further, how do we change it up? Why not use one of Thailand’s greatest assets, of course – its food?”
Lee said that TAT will increase awareness of both Thailand’s popular areas for first-timers while encouraging repeat clients to travel to lesser-visited regions, which include Mae Hong Son, Ban Phai and Nan.
“We’re going to get each Thai restaurant group to adopt a region and produce a specials menu featuring a regional dish from that area. Then nearby travel agencies will be paired with them for our D I Thai promotion to encourage customers to come to the restaurant and take part in Thai cookery courses.”
TAT has also introduced an Eat Thai, Visit Thai marketing toolkit, which includes holiday postcards, window and sandwich board posters and a social media strategy with a dedicated hashtag and shareable content – all of which will be available in the autumn.
“Eat Thai, Visit Thai will take us to the regions that reflect where the airlift is coming from too,” added Lee. “We have Emirates flying from Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester and now Stansted. We have Qatar from Cardiff, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester, and Tui is running charter services from Manchester, Birmingham and Gatwick non-stop into Phuket.”
Lee hopes that the campaign will also have a positive ecological impact for Thailand, following the closure of Thai Bay, made famous by the Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Beach, and Maya Bay, due to environmental damage caused by overcrowding.
“I’m proud of Thailand for making the decision to close the areas that need to recover,” says Lee. “Moving tourism around the whole of Thailand is the answer, and that’s what we’re committed to doing.”