Last Friday, I attended a mega convention organized by Tourism Authority of Thailand in Bangkok. Over 900 delegates from all over the world, which included media professionals, bloggers and travel agents were invited for this event. This was my first experience at an international media event and feels privileged to be one of the chosen few. The conventional hall is on the 22nd floor and offers nice view of the city.
As we arrived we were given a wrist band which had a USB drive with all the press data (we realized it a little later)- no physical kit were given, to help reduce luggage we will have to carry back home. Good thought. Most of the paper bags and print brochures given at press meets often go waste. The wrist band also signifies friendship, the theme for the evening being Thailand Best Friends Forever...[Checked later, the press kit has lots of good images and info about Thailand tourism, but nothing much about the speeches given that evening. I was expecting a profile of the dignitaries, transcript etc. It was good that I took some notes using sheets borrowed from Anuradha.
|At the Bangkok International Convention Centre, Clicked by Nisha Jha|
We were also given an audio device, on which we could hear the speeches translated to English. (The Thai leaders who spoke would speak in Thai language). This is my first such experience and I began to feel as if I am representing India at the United Nations.
The eat and drink all you can snacks spread was exhaustive, with special counters for Indian snacks. I met Mridula Dwivedi here, India’s top travel blogger near one such counter- she promptly pointed me to try the coconut ice-cream and I grabbed one. Mridula had flown in from Delhi that morning and is currently touring Thailand. It was nice meeting her after several years. We could have chatted more, but we were there on a mission- to spread the message about Thailand tourism. Soon it was time to enter the convention centre- being some of the early few to enter, myself, Nisha Jha and Anuradha Goyal took some of the front row seats.
Clicked by NIsha (http://www.lemonicks.com/)
Clicked by NIsha (http://www.lemonicks.com/)
We could see Vir Sangvi few rows ahead (Vir Sangvi is a celebrity journalist with Hindustan Times media. I didn’t recognize him, until Nisha and Anu pointed it out).
Within sometime the hall was full and the activities on the stage would begin. Without beating around the bush, the talk was short and to the point. First we were shown an amazing video of Thailand’s mesmerizing landscape and culture. You see that video and it will single handedly influence you to book a ticket to Thailand [But unfortunately this video is not present in press kit and nor the agencies I know had them]. Mr Thawatchai Arunyik, Governor, Thailand tourism spoke assuredly Thailand is safe for tourists and there is no reason to worry.
Next to speak was Admiral Narong Pipatanasai, Commander in Chief of Royal Thai Navy and Deputy Chief, NCPO (National Council for Peace and Order-the military body that virtually runs the current government administration in Thailand)- his message was to the point- We welcome tourists with all our hearts- they are like our guests. The assurance from the chief of armed forces assumes significance, since Thailand is virtually run by the army.
Subsequently there was a short dance performance- that began amidst the audience and concluded on stage…
The performance prompted Vir Sanghvi to get up from his seat and take a photo from his mobile phone.
The conference ended earlier than expected. There was no Q&A session either. A street festival was about to be inaugurated downstairs, about which I will write separately. We returned the audio device, had another round of snacks and went downstairs.
In my personal opinion, the political scenario at Thailand is no reason not to visit the country. The streets of Bangkok is as safe as it was during my 2012 visit. Hotels have 40-50% occupancy only, hence you will get good deals. Tourism being one of the primary source of revenue, everyone there realize the importance of making tourists comfortable, hence are more attentive than ever. Both during December 2013 when we toured 2000 kms all over Northern Thailand and last week when we covered southern part, the life on the street is very much normal. With an objective of boosting tourism, there will be several offers, schemes and festivals, which could give you extra advantages. If you have Thailand on your radar and are hesitating because of political unrest, take my word that there is no reason to worry.
In a related news, Thailand tourism has launched a tourist friendly insurance scheme, which at 650 THB per week, gives much better coverage than standard travel insurance schemes available from tradition vendors. More details: http://www.tourismthailand.org/ThailandTravelShield/