DESPITE a lack of direct air connections, Brazil's potential as a visitor source market for Thailand is steadily heating up.
Felipe Massari, owner of Sao Paulo-based Bari Tur, whose company recorded a 70 per cent rise in the Brazilian outbound segment to Thailand over the past five years, explained that the “novelty” of Thailand as a longhaul destination appealed to Brazilian travellers already familiar with New York and Paris.
He said Brazilians were attracted by muay Thai as they liked mixed martial arts and Thailand’s elephants were exotic to his clientele. “First-time visitors to South-east Asia are likely to do Thailand as a single destination as the country offers a bunch of experiences,” he noted.
Meanwhile, José Candido de Oliveira Neto, incentive manager of Pega Events Brazil, attributed the rising interest in Thailand to the “good flight connections via Istanbul, Dubai and other European countries”, as well as heightened destination awareness since Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) appointed a new marketing representative in Brazil last November.
The emergence of Latin America as a new source market for Thailand prompted TAT to attend the inaugural WTM Latin America in Sao Paulo in April this year with a delegation of five private sector companies from Thailand, revealed Visanu Jaroensilp, TAT’s director of the Americas market division.
Some 40,000 Brazilian tourists visited Thailand last year, an increase of 10 per cent from 2011, he added.
Likewise, Thailand-based tour operators are paying more attention to the Latin America market.
Sakai Naismith, inbound sales director, Khiri Thailand, said: “We need a diversification of markets, so we’re now testing the waters by appointing an Argentinean as our branch manager in Phuket last month to grow the South American market. Several travel agencies in Brazil and Peru have also approached us to develop tours for their clients.”
Naismith added: “Our Brazilian clients are mostly mid-range FITs but they spend up to three weeks in Thailand – and that’s a benefit.”