It’ll take more than creepy campaigns to increase visitor arrivals to Thailand

I came across what I think is a new blog called Cross Channel Talk recently that has an interesting post on “Selling Nationalism”. The post discusses the concept of promoting the national identity to drive up visitor numbers. It’s an interesting read that suggests the proliferation of global franchises such as McDonalds and Coca Cola has homogenized diverse cultures.

Whilst I personally believe that’s a stretch, the post does explore the way tourism campaigns have become a fairly predictable mashup of generalized images, ideas and stories.

The post looks at ads from Australia circa 1984 to the present day with a focus on Australia and Thailand. It takes a long hard look at how these countries have tried to be innovative in the way they market themselves.

The post rips into Tourism Authority Thailand’s recent attempt to drive visitors to the country, calling it ‘7 minutes of awkwardness’ with a ‘cringe factor of +15’.

This isn’t the first attempt by Tourism Authority Thailand (TAT) to create a buzz around the country by using what TAT themselves call ‘unbranded advertisements’. You can read more about their previous attempt ‘I hate Thailand’ here.

When discussing the Australian campaign, the Cross Channel Talk blog quotes opposition tourism spokesperson Martin Ferguson as saying;

“We’ve been told it was a huge success and generated all these hits on a website but the latest tourism figures show the numbers are down.”

If the metric for success is hits on a video then the ‘I hate Thailand’ campaign might be considered a success as it has generated almost 3 million views in about 8 months. Released in November 2014, it may have been too late to have an impact on the 2014 arrivals that were 11% down on the previous year. However, TAT is cautiously optimistic about 2015 arrivals although the early signs are that any growth will come from the region and not the more lucrative long haul European markets.

And besides, any increase in arrivals will not just be a result of a new campaign, espcially a creepy one!