By THE NATION
It is part of a renewed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Expedia Group and TAT, following a successful collaboration that began in September 2018.
This strategic tripartite agreement comes at an opportune time. In 2020, TAT will focus on building confidence for Thailand's tourism brands by encouraging and promoting responsible tourism to maintain the strong growth momentum of the Thai tourism sector.
TAT will also prioritise environmental sustainability and cultural vibrancy to position Thailand as a sustainable and preferred destination in accordance with its vision.
The agreement also supports the Thai government's leadership and commitment towards conserving the marine environment and addressing marine debris issues, in particular plastic waste across the Asean region.
Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, TAT Deputy Governor for International Marketing (Asia and South Pacific), said sustainability is top of mind for TAT as it gears up to mark its 60th anniversary in 2020.
"Collaborating with Expedia Group and Unesco will enable TAT to better incentivise business stakeholders and industry players to accelerate sustainable tourism development across the nation while supporting new travel experiences in emerging Thai destinations," he said.
"TAT is committed to protecting the environment through its "Thailand Reduce Waste" initiative, which invites visitors and the tourism operators to reduce and eliminate single-use plastic that has significantly created waste in tourist destinations. It also promotes the use of organic materials that help save the earth and add value to local resources".
Under the Pledge, all parties are committed to supporting the reduction and elimination of single-use plastic while also promoting local culture and activities in Thailand.
"The reality is that everyone needs to play their part in protecting the planet and in protecting culture, and with 1.4 billion tourists on the road last year alone, tourism has a key impact," said Ernesto Ottone R, Unesco assistant director-general for culture. "The Sustainable Tourism Pledge aims to turn words into action. This partnership with Expedia Group and the pilot initiative with Thai tourism is about taking those steps to minimise waste in the tourism sector and to promote the role of culture for sustainable development. This is good for the planet, for communities and could be the start of something global".
Since the launch of the previous MoU, Expedia Group has worked closely with TAT to drive international demand to emerging destinations such as Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son.
These efforts have come to fruition as demand for accommodation in Chiang Rai through Expedia Group grew by 25 per cent year on year.
In particular, international travellers to Chiang Rai proved to be high-value customers as they spent 10 per cent more on daily accommodation, and about one third of inbound travellers booked four-or five-star hotels, which is 1.5 times more likely than domestic travellers.
In this renewed MOU, Expedia Group will support TAT's strategic goals in attracting high-value travellers (Go High), promoting emerging destinations to first-time visitors (Go New Customers) and generating more demand during low season (Go Low). These will include:
· Driving inbound and domestic tourism through sustained digital marketing campaigns.
· Identifying and promoting new tourism opportunities in Thailand.
· Leveraging industry experience, digital technology and big data to provide strategic advice on Thailand's tourism vision and plans, including shaping a sustainable national framework for Thailand's short-term accommodation industry, that Expedia Group is committed to leveraging its vacation rental brand -VRBO to advocate sustainable tourism in this sector.
· Promoting sustainable and responsible tourism in Thailand and creating environmental consciousness and encouraging sustainable practices in the tourism sector.
· Supporting the development of digital innovation and capabilities across Thailand's tourism industry in both primary and emerging destinations, especially in the accommodation and local activities sector.
· Promoting traveller safety and security in Thailand.
Ang Choo Pin, senior director for government and corporate affairs/Asia at Expedia Group, said the Pledge demonstrates Expedia Group's growing commitment to promoting sustainable tourism and enhancing environmental consciousness among our travel partners across the industry. He also said that Expedia Group is honoured to be collaborating with TAT and Unesco, both of whom are leaders in destination sustainability.
"Everyone has a responsibility to promote sustainable tourism to help preserve beautiful travel destinations around the world. We will work with the TAT and UNESCO to inspire and promote local tourism businesses. In particular, we will collaborate closely with the hospitality sector to enhance environmental and sustainable tourism consciousness and practices across Thailand," Ang added.