Thailand is promoting five Fs — fight, food, film, festival and fashion — to lure tourists from India, said an official of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
The country, one of the most popular international destinations for tourists from Kolkata, wants to popularise Muay Thai, a combat sport also known as Thai boxing.
“Muay Thai involves all parts of the body. It is not just used for combat but for daily fitness. Many fitness centres in Thailand provide training in Muay Thai,” said Siriges-a-nong Trirattanasongpol, director, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), New Delhi. “Half-a-day crash courses in Muay Thai are offered for tourists. We want to showcase the sport.”
TAT will organise Amazing Thailand Festival between May 12 and 14 in Kolkata to attract tourists in pre-Covid numbers.
According to the TAT director, around 2 million tourists from India had visited Thailand in 2019, the last pre-Covid year. In 2022, after the country opened its doors to international tourists after a prolonged pandemic-induced closure, the number had dropped below 1 million.
“We are expecting the number of tourists from India to increase to anything between 1.4 and 1.8 million this year. In 2024, we are hoping to achieve the pre-pandemic 2 million figure,” said Trirattanasongpol.
“This time we are also promoting our country’s cuisine. Earlier, too, Thai food was very popular,” she said.
Along with fight and food, Thailand wants tourists to explore the locations where Hollywood and Bollywood films were shot.
The locations that are being showcased include an island off the Phang Nga Bay in southern Thailand, where the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun was shot; Koh Phi Phi Leh island, where the Leonardo DiCaprio-starrer The Beach was filmed; and the spots where Bollywood movies such as Student of The Year and Thai Massage were shot.
TAT is also promoting festivals like Songkran held in April.
“It has a lot of similarities with Holi in India. Water is splashed as part of the celebrations,” said Trirattanasongpol.
Fashion is the fifth “F” Thailand is promoting.
“There are a lot of similarities between Thai and Indian fashion. We are showcasing the creations of young talented Thai fashion designers. There are many stores across Thailand that are selling Thai brands,” said Trirattanasongpol.
Sirivannavari fashion brand, created by Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Rajakanya, is one of the most popular brands in the country.
According to Trirattanasongpol, Elle Fashion Week and Vogue Fashion Week, held mostly in November and December, attract many tourists.
“We would earlier focus on destinations and culture along with the activities one can enjoy. Food was always very popular. But now we are focusing on other elements, too,” said Trirattanasongpol.
Tour operators in Kolkata said with Covid protocols withdrawn, Thailand has become popular.
“For the last couple of years, we have been observing a summer rush to Thailand. One of the main reasons is cheaper air fares,” said Raktim Roy, managing director of Dolphin Travels.