Campus: CSU Hayward -- March 5, 2004
Thailand Wants Americans to Visit Longer, Cal
State Hayward Team Shows Them How
More Americans would come to Thailand for extended visits if misconceptions
about the country could be dispelled in the United States, according
to a report delivered to Thai officials by a team from California State
Participants in the Transnational Executive MBA program, known as TEMBA,
presented a six-month study showing that while Americans recognize Thailand
as a friendly country with a fascinating culture, good food, and low-cost,
high-value accommodations, they have concerns about the country’s
traffic congestion, environmental issues and infrastructure.
To develop its findings and recommendations, the five-member TEMBA team
of San Francisco Bay Area executives conducted a nationwide survey of
Americans, interviewed travel industry experts, and conducted focus
groups with international travelers. The team was particularly interested
in how to increase the number of Americans who visit Thailand for up
to 30 days, known in the tourism industry as a “long stay.”
The study was commissioned last summer by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
The agency’s directors heard the final report of the Cal State
Hayward TEMBA team in Bangkok on Feb. 17. The report concludes that
the economic impact of long stay American visitors on Thailand could
range from $56 to $140 million a year.
“This information gives us an excellent look at how Americans
see Thailand and points us in the direction we need to go to build the
number of long stay visitors from the US,” said Tourism Authority
Deputy Governor Santichai Eauchongprasit.
“We think Thailand could easily position itself as a world-class
luxury destination that is friendly and affordable for long stays,”
the Tourism Authority directors were told by TEMBA team member Viola
Chung, a director and network designer for Repeater Technologies in
Sunnyvale, Calif. “It certainly has competitive advantages over
similar destinations, such as Hawaii and Fiji.”
The Tourism Authority had also asked the TEMBA team to look at other
destinations for American tourists, including Australia, China, Ireland,
Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
“The rivalry is high in the long stay market,” said B.H.
Teh, business solutions manager for Computerland, “but there are
no dominant competitors. That means Thailand has an opportunity in this
market, especially if it emphasizes its culture, climate and heritage.”
The cited his team’s national survey that showed Americans’
top priorities in choosing a long stay destination are safety, cleanliness,
sanitary facilities that meet western standards, a friendly environment
and the ability to get around easily. The survey was conducted on random
Americans with technical assistance from Dun & Bradstreet.
“One of our challenges was that there is so little information
available on long stays,” said TEMBA team member Christopher Mark,
manager of security for C&H Sugar in Crockett, Calif. “Our
surveys, interviews with the travel industry, and the focus groups gave
us information on a category of tourist that hadn’t been looked
Mark said the team discovered that the profile of American long stay
tourists is more male than female, not necessarily retired, mostly unmarried,
and includes a large number of people who travel alone.
“We found that relaxation and exploration were the most important
attractions to long stay tourists, and that concerns about medical services
or business access were not,” Mark told the TAT directors. “These
travelers are not looking for a home away from home.”
Safety is the major issue Thailand needs to address to develop a long
stay market to augment the 555,000 Americans who visit Thailand every
year, according to TEMBA team member Charles Jang, a Hewlett Packard
project manager based in Palo Alto, Calif.
“Safety is clearly the most important factor to potential American
long stay tourists,” Jang told the Tourism Authority directors.
“Thailand needs to position itself to show that its reputation
for friendliness is a dimension of the safety here in a stable democracy
with an ancient, peaceful culture.”
“One of the key messages is to dispel misconceptions about safety
in Thailand, which is important to Americans these days,” said
TEMBA team member Kim Smith, business development manager for Hertz
Corp. “Thailand has what the western traveler is looking for in
a long stay and they need to know they can visit here in luxury, at
a great value, and safely.”
Smith gave the Tourism Authority directors a series of recommendations
developed by the TEMBA team designed to get the word out about long
stays in Thailand. They included travel agent training, contact with
retirement communities, and advertising strategies. The key target markets
were identified as travelers over 55 years old and “Baby Boomers.”
“Since so little attention has been paid anywhere to this category
of tourism,” Smith said, “the opportunity here is for Thailand
to design approaches specifically designed to reach the long stay client.”
The TEMBA team left the Tourism Authority with binders and CDs of its
extensive research, along with a videocassette of its focus group work
with international travelers living in the large California Contra Costa
County retirement communities of Brentwood and Rossmoor. The team also
provided the Tourism Authority with a financial model it developed that
includes cost calculation worksheets projecting how many long stay tourists
will respond to recommended marketing strategies.
“The financial model alone gives the Tourism Authority a tremendous
resource for projecting results based on its budget,” said Shyam
Kamath, international trade economist and director of the TEMBA program.
The Thailand long stay project team was directed by Kamath and fellow
Cal State Hayward business professors Jagdish Agrawal and Zinovy Radovilsky.
Kamath said tourism authority directors were so impressed with the final
report that they have asked about future projects they can do with the
Cal State Hayward program.
The TEMBA team’s report came during a week when the Tourism Authority
reported that the affect of news about bird flu outbreaks in Asia were
responsible for a 10 percent drop in tourism from other Asian countries
to Thailand. Tourism from the United States was unaffected, which led
to hopes by Tourism Authority directors that they could still reach
their goal of a 24 percent increase in tourism this year, to 12 million
Cal State Hayward’s College of Business and Economics has extensive
experience with projects for the Thai government and corporations. Through
its TEMBA and Asian International Marketing programs, the university
has conducted 22 studies in the last 10 years. One day before the TEMBA
presentation to the Tourism Authority, another team gave a report in
Bangkok on a study it completed for Plan Creations, a major Thai toy
Media Contact: Kim Huggett, (510) 885-2032