Travel media, advisors, partners of Air Canada and the Tourism Authority of Thailand got a literal taste of amazing Thailand on Tuesday night (June 27) when they gathered for dinner at Toronto’s long-running Bangkok Gardens restaurant to celebrate travel to the Land of Smiles.
“Thailand is a very strategic destination for Air Canada,” said Rocky Lo, Air Canada’s senior director, Asia revenue management and sales, speaking to PAX at the event.
Addressing event attendees, Viktor Spysak, senior marketing executive at the Tourism Authority of Thailand, highlighted the many reasons why Thailand is an exciting destination for Canadian travellers, including its people, its high value, and the diverse experience it offers.
“Thai people are openly and genuinely friendly and happy to share their culture with foreign visitors,” said Spysak.
“Luxury in Thailand is affordable,” he added, “and diversity is another reason why Thailand should be on the list of priority destinations – diversity of everything: experiences, destinations, products, food, landscapes.”
Kayla Shubert, marketing manager at the Tourism Authority of Thailand, described the country’s appeal as “beaches plus.”
“We have our fabulous beaches, wellness, culinary offerings, soft adventure – it’s a lot,” she said. “Canadians love beaches and Thailand is ‘beaches plus,’ so it’s a good product.”
Back to Bangkok
Air Canada will resume its non-stop service from Vancouver to Bangkok this December after a successful initial run last year.
“We're very happy and proud to share with you that this flight had magnificent results,” said Maria Lu, Air Canada’s senior manager, specialty sales - Asias, speaking to attendees.
“We had very good performance – almost full every single day in both directions, which is why we're so happy to bring this flight back again for this winter season.”
Lu shared that this nonstop service from Vancouver to Bangkok will run seasonally from December 2023 to March 2024 and increase in frequency from four flights per week last year to five weekly flights this year.
Lo said that the flight’s late evening departure time is particularly appealing to travellers looking to maximize their time in Thailand. “You go on board, you sleep, and then you arrive early in the morning and start your day,” he said, speaking to PAX.
Beyond Bangkok, Lu noted in her presentation that Air Canada’s Star Alliance partners, including Bangkok Airways and Thai Airways, make it easy for travellers to continue on to other parts of Thailand, including popular destinations like Krabi, Phuket, and Chiang Mai.
For travellers looking to visit Thailand outside the December to March window when Air Canada’s direct flights operate, Lu said the airline’s extensive network in the Asia Pacific region creates almost endless itinerary options.
“It's up to you, our trusted agency partners, to be creative when it comes to how to get our customer there and how to make the most out of their trip,” she said.
Lu highlighted one of the new upcoming options will include non-stop service from Vancouver to Singapore, which is launching in April 2024 with four flights per week.
“Our Star Alliance partners will allow customers to travel between Thailand and Singapore seamlessly,” she said.“We will be able to support you to create destination itineraries in many, many different ways.”
Spysak shared that more than 100,000 Canadians have visited Thailand in 2023 already, in part thanks to Air Canada’s direct flights. By comparison, Thailand saw around 252,000 visitors for the entire year in 2019.
“We feel like the recovery has been pretty successful for us,” he said.
Shubert said that Canadians continue to be among the top visitors to Thailand. “We have 60 per cent repeat visitors and the routine length of stay right now is over 16 days, which is really incredible,” she said. “Air Canada’s partnership has really been instrumental in boosting our numbers.”
Lo highlighted the importance of agents in making these strong Canadian visitor numbers possible. “We do work very closely with our travel trade partners because we believe that travel trade is very important for us to promote our service to their respective clients,” he said.
During his presentation, Spysak encouraged agents to leverage the Thailand Expert portal, which compiles information about over 200 hotels as well as provides access to webinars and virtual tours.
It also offers opportunities for agents to become certified as “Thai specialists” in selling Thailand travel.
“Thailand is a bit different – it’s not just about the sun and the beach. It's also about the food, the culture and the history,” said Lo.