Defying the odds: Thailand tourism

THAILAND - Thailand has it all - authentic food, great beer, shopping galore, a rapidly developing infrastructure and a rich history based on spirituality alongside a colorful culture.

Defying the odds: Thailand tourism

THAILAND – Thailand has it all – authentic food, great beer, shopping galore, a rapidly developing infrastructure and a rich history based on spirituality alongside a colorful culture. Although they all seem common and exist in every Southeast Asian country, what makes the “Land of Smiles” different is its low cost of living and unique and positive attitude towards hospitality. The fact is, when one’s money gets to go a long way, it gives a whole new perspective in the art of traveling.

With globalization, more and more people are crisscrossing the world in search of that perfect travel experience. It may be for leisure, cultural immersion, business, medical tourism or in search for an ideal retirement haven. The rapid growth in tourism has proved to be overwhelming and a boon at the same time. The economics of traveling is constantly changing. Holiday makers are becoming tourists and more tourists are turning out to be intrepid travelers. No wonder that some of them choose to go off to places where they can get the best of everything for the least amount of money.

Enter Bangkok, Thailand’s bustling capital which tops this year’s Global Destinations Cities Index according to MasterCard. A scene from its international airport to its busy streets and down to its magnificent river is a manifestation of what could be termed mass tourism. A report from the tourism ministry also revealed that international tourist arrivals to Suvarnabhumi Airport had increased by 22% in April 2013 alone. Moreover, an increase of 19% was recorded during January to April this year and the number continues to multiply each day.

The swelling number of tourists is posing a major challenge to many hotels in the city. As the demand for good and economic accommodation arises, hoteliers are trying to match and cater to the needs of this emerging trend and robust market.

As Bangkok celebrated the Buddhist holiday last July 22-23, 2013, The Royal Orchid Sheraton had been busy welcoming tourist since its inception on July 22, 1983. As one of the oldest hotels in the capital, it was the first Starwood property in Thailand and was officially inaugurated by her Majesty, Queen Sirikit.

“No other way to entice the travelers but to offer a good rate, a room with a view, palatable cuisine, a five-star service as well as style,” says Keith Hardie, General Manager of The Royal Orchid Sheraton.

Just very recently, in commemorating its 30thanniversary, The Royal Orchid Sheraton introduced its newly renovated Tower Lounge that proudly sits on the 27th floor affording tourists a spectacular view of Bangkok’s famous river –The Chao Phraya. From a distance, are temples built centuries ago, wooden houses and restaurants standing on the riverbanks while ferries transporting passengers’ makes for a pulsating life on the river.

Thirty years later Starwood boasts 9 hotels in the capital, with all their brands represented.

Bangkok’s popularity is now no longer just for Europeans and Westerners but also draws in thousands of Chinese travelers all thanks to the hit Chinese movie Lost in Thailand, reflecting a substantial growth of 91%.

The Tourism Authority in Thailand (TAT) had already set a 2014 target for 28 million international tourist arrivals, generating an estimated foreign exchange revenues of almost 1 trillion Baht, up 13% over 2013.TAT Governor Suraphon Svetasreni said, “Finalizing the 2014 marketing plan has been a particularly challenging exercise in view of all the phenomenal and monumental changes taking place both worldwide, regionally, and locally within Thailand, in customer demographics as well as the way the industry does business.”

The weather can be tricky and the traffic can be a nightmare, but once set foot in Thailand, the next thing to do is to is give the credit card a workout – either by going out for authentic “Thai” food, great beer, or that extreme shopping experience, however, there’s still no better way to end the day but to be tucked in a nice cozy bed with a breathtaking view of the “River of the Kings.”

The author, Jan Sevilla, is a quixotic nomadic chick from the Philippines with some difficulty of having her subject agree to her verb. She is forever 25. Convinced herself that she is alive but half-asleep or half-noticing as the years fly, no matter how oxygenated the blood that flows in her brain. Catch more of her travel murmurs at:

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