It is very likely that former US President Barack Obama has tasted authentic Thai cuisine in Bangkok because of the several visits to the Kingdom. Although the United States is thousands of miles away from Asia, Obama feels at home in the company of Thai leaders. According to the former US President, although Thailand visits are quite brief, he has felt the warmth of the Thais as well as their dignity and strength.
Most of the marketing campaigns of tourist destinations are geared towards the Chinese traveler because their number keeps on growing. Thailand which is one of the most popular tourist destinations has chosen to promote gastronomy tourism to leverage on its rich cultural resources, culinary experiences and unique traits. Gastronomy tourism aims to win the hearts and minds of Chinese consumers.
According to KobkarnWattanavrangkul, Tourism and Sports Minister of Thailand, at least one-third of tourism spending goes to gastronomy. However, with the right efforts, the spending can be significantly increased. In 2016, gastronomy tourism generated more than $9.9 billion revenue for Thailand. The primary sources of tourism revenue include accommodation and shopping.
The largest international tourism market is China tourists who spent $2.5 billion in food and beverages in 2016. The number is 4 times greater than the second biggest source of tourism income which is Russia that has a particular preference for culinary tourism.
Another campaign that was recently launched is Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018 that will focus on local experiences including cuisine. Thailand also intends to expand the focus to include luxurious local experiences instead of the world renowned street food in Bangkok. An exclusive event that will be attended by the world’s greatest chefs will be organized by top luxury retail operators. The focus of the tourism campaign will be on authentic local flavors and experiences.
The gastronomy tourism campaign is good news for authentic Thai cuisine in Bangkok because it is an opportunity to gain world attention. The campaign targets independent travelers from the high-end market segments. The gastronomy market will not only increase its profitability, it can promote Thailand as a first class tourist destination and not just a budget destination.