Richard Quest, host of CNN Business Traveller, explores the evolving Thai tourism industry in the latest edition of the programme, which debuts this afternoon (November 9) at 4.30pm.
Quest begins the program by speaking with Thai Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul about her country’s recent shift in its tourism strategy, emphasising “quality” rather than “quantity”.
“We believe that the true success of tourism of our country is the people. At the end of the day, Thailand will always be your second home. The Land of Smiles is the spirit, it is the people,” says Kobkarn in the programme.
Thirty million is Thailand's magic number. That's how many tourists visited Thailand in 2016 and that number just keeps growing. Representing US$50 billion in revenue, just over 12 per cent of the country’s GDP, Thailand’s tourism industry ranks third behind the United States and Spain in terms of income.
Quest then heads to school to learn what makes Thai hospitality so unique when he visits the Dusit Thani College. The Dusit Thani was actually Bangkok's first five-star hotel and opened in 1970, so Quest sits down with group CEO Suphajee Suthumpun to learn about the famed hotel's plans for renovation while the brand also expands abroad.
“We are proud of our Thai heritage that uniquely delivering gracious hospitality to the world and that’s always my goal,” explained Suphajee. “I not only want to expand our hotel footprint to other countries around the world, but I'd also like to be the ambassador of gracious Thai hospitality.”
CNN also meets one of the new kids on the block, the Park Hyatt, as the brand comes to Thailand for the first time. A key to Thailand's new tourism strategy will be attracting more meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibition travellers. Quest sits down with TCEB President, Chiruit Isarangkun to hear how Thailand plans to woo these highly prized visitors.
It's then time to head north to Chiang Mai. CNN Business Traveller explores how low-cost carrier Nok Air is dealing with all the competition in the sky then experiences how the city in the mountains is charming tourists away from big cities and beaches when he visits the Elephant Nature Park for an unforgettable day. When it's time to settle in for the night, he heads to 137 Pillars to learn how this boutique approach to luxury is key to Thailand's future.
Boutique travel is also translating to the skies, so CNN Business Traveller flies back on Bangkok Airways to see how this has been good for business.
And finally, learn why sustainable tourism is vital to the country when CNN visits the quaint Kudeejeen community with the travel company, Local Alike. Growing up in a village, the company's founder Pai Boonkam explains why he's dedicated to making sure Thailand's tourism success is shared with everyone.
The programme will also air tomorrow at 11.30am, on November 11 at 12.30pm as well as on December 10, 11 and 12 at 8.30pm, 12.30pm and 11am respectively.
The video link can be found at http://cnn.it/2h9b6l6