AUSTRALIA’S love affair with Thailand has been challenged over the last 12 months, a result of increased competition from neighbouring countries in South East Asia as well as reduced air access.

“Thailand has always been one of the top five destination for Australia but in the last 12 months the number of visitors and spend has been quite flat,” Tourism Thailand Director Suladda Sarutilavan conceded.

“We received about 800,000 tourist arrivals from Australia last year. Thai Airways has reduced the number of flights from Australia and the seating capacity is also less, so this was always going to dent the numbers,” she added.

Thailand is hoping a number of new attractions such as new local tours, commercial precincts and hotels will help reignite Aussie tourists’ long-held passion for the country affectionately referred to as the Land of Smiles.

“There are a number of new local experience tours that visitors from Australia would love,” Sarutilavan said. “Apart from traditional sightseeing tours like our famous temple tours, visitors can now take part in a range of new tours such as cooking, massage, and special family group tours”.

Spearheading the list of new attractions is the new mixed-use development Iconsiam which opened to the public in Nov last year. Located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, the precinct contains a whopping 525,000m of retail space, a 3,000-seat exhibition hall, the River Museum Bangkok, and a large landscaped riverside park area.

The bustling capital also has a swathe of new hotel openings to spruik, headlined by the 171-room Waldorf Astoria Bangkok which opened just before Christmas, and Hyatt Regency Bangkokwhich also opened for business in December last year.

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