In an effort to address a gap in travel between Thailand and the island of Kyushu in Japan, a tourism exchange was recently organized in the city of Fukuoka between the Thai Government and the private sector of Japan’s travel industry.
To mark the 40th Anniversary of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation, the Symposium on Mutual Tourism Exchange between Thailand and Kyushu was held in Fukuoka on May 8.
Participants included representatives of Kyushu’s tourist businesses and Thai government officials. Led by Mr. Thanatip Upatising, Thai Ambassador to Japan, and Mr. Suraphon Svetasreni, Governor of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Thai side met with the Japanese delegates to map out a plan to increase two-way tourist traffic.
Though Thailand received 1.3 million Japanese visitors in 2012, only 10% of that total came from Kyushu. Conversely, of the more than 260,000 Thais who visited Japan last year, about 8% went to Kyushu, most having made cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto their holiday destinations.
The symposium focused on enhancing bilateral Thai-Japanese relations at the national level, then examined channels to improve marketing activities to increase two-way traffic. Over 500 Japanese representatives of Kyushu’s tourism industry participated, including the local government leaders of Fukuoka Prefecture and executives of Japan’s Transport Bureau and Japan Railway.
The event highlighted the need for active involvement of the Thai and Japanese governments in facilitating travel between Kyushu and Thailand. Marketing routes considered were more frequent media and travel agent familiarization trips and better exposure in each country’s travel shows.
In 2012, Japanese tourists to Thailand totalled 1,371,253, an increase of 21.58 percent. In Jan - Apr 2013, Japanese arrivals totalled 520,415, up 19.16% over the same period of last year.
In 2013, TAT is expecting 1.42 million Japanese visitors, generating an estimated 55,690 million baht in tourism revenue.
Japan is Thailand’s largest trading partner, while Thailand is Japan’s sixth largest trading partner. In terms of investment, Japan is the largest group of investors in Thailand, with investment value of 312 billion baht, accounting for 63 percent of the total foreign direct investment in Thailand. There are about 7,000 Japanese companies operating in Thailand.
Thailand and Japan celebrated the 125th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2012.