Sports tourism to be promoted
With Tokyo as the venue for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, the Thai Ministry of Tourism and Sports is looking to promote Thailand as an alternative training destination for athletes in the run-up to the major event.
According to the Sports Minister Kobkara Wattanaveangkul, Thailand has the potential to attract athletes from Europe and the Asean region because of its warm weather and sports facilities in resort destinations and tourism spots such as Phuket, Chonburi, Sukhothai and the Muang Lek district of Saraburi.
The Sports Minister was quoted as saying that European athletes may want to find a warmer place to train while Asean athletes may just want to prepare outside their own countries.
The Sports Minister has identified three key sports where she believes athletes from Europe and Asean might be keen to consider coming to Thailand. These are track and field, swimming and rowing.
The Minister believes sports tourism could have the potential to woo ‘quality’ tourists, which presumably is a phrase meaning visitors who spend more per day on average than other tourists.
The Tourism and Sports Ministry will be promoting Thailand as a sports tourism destination at the World Travel Mart 2015 show which takes place in London between 2 and 5 November. A special booth will promote sports tourism, showing what activities are available and in what areas of the country.
On a recent trip to Chengdu, the capital of the southwestern province of Sichuan in China, the Sports Minister met with Chinese travel agents. She claimed many of the travel agents were keen to learn more about what sports activities are available in Thailand, particularly focusing on marathons and triathlons as well as asking about cycling lanes at major tourist destinations. The latter may have proved a little difficult to promote given that Pattaya, for example, does not have any cycle lanes and the concept is still in its infancy elsewhere.
The Sports and Tourism Ministry attended the JATA Tourism Expo Japan, held in Tokyo between 23 and 26 September, and introduced a ladies’ package for Japanese women interested in travelling to Thailand.
Prior to the Expo, the Sports Minister met with the governor of the Chiba prefecture in Japan to talk about promoting tourism between Chiba and Thailand. The governor cited highlights of Chiba as being its fruits, Fukuda Denshi Arena and the Chiba Marine Stadium.
The Chiba governor invited the ministry to promote Thailand within the prefecture, which has a population of 6.2 million. It is more than likely the ministry will promote standard tourism rather than focus on sports tourism out of Chiba.