TAT Dubai Targets Saudi Tourism Boom

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Dubai & Middle East Office is making significant strides to capture the lucrative Saudi Arabian market. Following the resumption of diplomatic ties between Thailand and Saudi Arabia in 2022, TAT has seen a surge in tourist arrivals from Saudi Arabia. In 2023, the number of Saudi tourists visiting Thailand reached 180,000, thanks to a series of marketing initiatives. This year, TAT aims to attract 900,000 tourists from the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, and Oman. The focus is on promoting Thailand as a premier travel destination, especially for high-spending tourists from Saudi Arabia.

Strategic Marketing Initiatives

TAT’s Dubai & Middle East Office has been actively working to promote Thailand as a top travel destination for Saudi tourists. The office introduced 12 Saudi Arabian travel buyers to Thai travel suppliers at the Thailand Travel Mart+ 2024. This event, held in Phang-Nga Province, showcased Thailand’s diverse travel products and aimed to boost travel during the upcoming peak seasons in July and August.

The Saudi market is seen as highly promising, with tourists having an average length of stay of 12 to 14 days and spending an average of THB90,000 per person per trip. This is significantly higher than the international average of THB50,000 per person per trip. The family-oriented lifestyle of Middle Eastern travelers, who often travel in groups, further enhances the appeal of Thailand as a destination.

Overcoming Challenges

Despite the promising potential, TAT faces challenges in expanding its presence in the Saudi Arabian market. One of the primary obstacles is the limited flight capacity, mainly operated by Middle Eastern carriers. During the high season, there are approximately seven weekly flights to Bangkok, including direct flights from Jeddah and Jeddah via Riyadh to Bangkok. In the low season, the number of flights drops to three or four per week.

To address this challenge, TAT is working closely with leading tour operators and major air carriers in the Middle East. By leveraging the network of these carriers, TAT aims to increase flight capacity and support its marketing approach. Expanding flight capacity is crucial to accommodating the growing number of tourists from Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries.

Future Prospects

Looking ahead, TAT is optimistic about the future of Saudi tourism in Thailand. The agency aims to tap into key sectors, including Generation X (40 years old and above) and Millennials (Generation Y), who have the purchasing power and time for travel. Popular destinations such as Bangkok, Phuket, and Pattaya are recognized among Middle Eastern travelers for their entertainment and shopping opportunities.

Additionally, TAT is focusing on promoting secondary cities, especially beach resort destinations like Khao Lak. The market seeks luxury resorts, particularly those with pool villas, as well as family-friendly activities such as theme parks, water parks, zoos, and aquariums. By catering to these preferences, TAT hopes to attract more tourists from the Middle East and achieve its target of 900,000 visitors this year.

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