TGTM 2019: Thailand maps out golf tourism strategy for India

As international golfing champion Tom Watson once famously said, “A great golf course both frees and challenges a golfer’s mind.” From the looks of it, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is on course to make the country a golfer’s paradise.

The strategy was visibly evident in August when the breathtaking Thai province, Chiang Mai, played host to Thailand Golf Travel Mart (TGTM) 2019. The mart proved to be more than just a meeting point for buyers and sellers. The enthusiastic Tanes Petsuwan, TAT’s Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications, emphasized that the event goes beyond golf.

“For golfers who come to Thailand, golf isn’t a stand-alone entity. There is more,” he said. Listing out the 5Gs of golf, he said a golf tourist can enjoy the ‘Green,’ the ‘Gastronomy,’ the ‘Golf Courses,’ the ‘Good Time,’ and what he calls, ‘After the Game.’

“We had a pretty good positive feedback from international buyers and Thai sellers as well. Normally, when people think of Chiang Mai, they will think of it as a city of arts, city of culture, and city of gastronomy. This year, we’d like to propose a new perception of Chiang Mai to the tourists. We are using golf tourism to introduce Chiang Mai to all international tourists. This has been a success. There are over five golf courses in Chiang Mai. When people come to Chiang Mai, they also get to enjoy the food, the culture, temples, and the beautiful scenery of the mountains. Golf tourism will be a new strategy to promote Chiang Mai. India is one of the key markets that Thailand would like to focus on. When Indians usually come to Thailand, they enjoy the resorts, they love shopping, they enjoy the food, they enjoy the nightlife, and they enjoy drinking. Sports, in particular, golf is something that Thailand wants to propose to the Indian traveler. From TAT statistics, we can understand that there is an increase in the number of golfers from India. I think the upper class, elite Indians enjoy golf very much. Thailand, therefore, is the appropriate destination for Indian golfers, and Chiang Mai, in particular, is a place that an Indian traveler would definitely enjoy,” he said.

Isra Stapanaseth, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand, which has its office in New Delhi, reiterated that Besides Bangkok and Phuket, Chiang Mai will definitely be a favorite among Indian travelers. “Chiang Mai has everything. The local hospitality, the food, and manmade attractions are something that every traveler would admire,” he said.

About nine top-performing travel agencies from India were invited to TGTM, including Luxe Journeys, Golf Tripz, My Golf Tour, and Beleast Travels.

Amish B Desai, Director, Beleast Travels Pvt Ltd, who networked with many representatives of hotels, resorts, and DMCs at the travel mart, said that this year, the quality of sellers has gone up. “This event helped open doors for me.  I found several DMCs with good infrastructure,” he said.

Golf tourism is the niche tourism in the world, said Chitranjan Bakshi from Cox and Kings.

“I think there are over 60 million golfers traveling all over the world for golf holidays, and everyone wants to get into the segment of the business. Golf tourism can be divided into different areas. Thailand gets over 40 million tourists every year, out of which the golfing segment must be at least 1.5 million or 2 million. All the guys—they come regularly, they spend a lot of money. As far as India is concerned, Thailand has over 80 flights connecting different points, such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata. More flights are being added every day. For Indians, it’s easier to come to Thailand on a golf holiday because there is a visa on arrival facility. It’s a good value for money. People can come and have a great golf holiday. Every Indian golfer comes to Thailand more than just once. They come with friends and family. It’s good that Thailand is focusing on the Indian market for golf tourism. They are putting in a lot of time and effort to tap the market.  I am sure it will definitely show results,” he said.

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