Thai tourism recruits movie star to promote Thailand in China

BANGKOK, Thailand - Thai movie star Mario Maurer has been appointed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to promote Thailand in China, aiming for 5 million tourist arrivals from that country next year

Thai tourism recruits movie star to promote Thailand in China

BANGKOK, Thailand – Thai movie star Mario Maurer has been appointed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to promote Thailand in China, aiming for 5 million tourist arrivals from that country next year, a TAT executive said.

Kitsana Kaewtumrong, the authority’s director of international publicity, said the superstar was very popular in China, especially among younger people.

“Mario has a lot of fans there, so TAT asked him to help promote the country throughout next year,” Kitsana said.

China has been Thailand’s biggest source of tourists for years. The TAT has projected that 1.5 million tourists from mainland China would come to Thailand in the last three months of 2014. For the whole year, the number is projected at 4.3 million, with hopes of reaching 5 million in 2015.

Kitsana said Mario was scheduled to lead special activities, including performances to reach out to target groups – not only young people, but also free independent travelers.

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The TAT earlier collaborated with GMM Grammy to run some campaigns in China using another actor, Pong Nawat, but it had little impact, possibly because it coincided with the political chaos in Thailand that threatened the overall inbound-tourism business.

The tourism authority in Turkey and Turkish Airlines have adopted a similar practice by hiring Hollywood star Kevin Costner to promote that country in international tourism markets.

Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, urged the government to consider reinstating the visa-fee exemption for tourists from mainland China and Taiwan. From mid-August to mid-October after the political crisis, the military regime launched the three-month visa scheme and lured a lot of Chinese back.

Travel agents are asking for another waiver period of six to 12 months, he said.

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