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According to a report in the New York Times Thailand, in recent marketing campaigns, has been aiming to attract more diverse categories of tourists, such as Muslims, Israelis and homosexuals.
The land of smiles has always prided itself on being open to a wide range of tourists who receive the sort of welcome they may not find in other countries such as Myanmar, where anti-Muslim feelings have recently spilled over into violence.
According to Crescentrating, an online travel guide, Thailand is the eight most popular country with Muslim travelers, particularly Gulf Arabs, and a Crescentrating study ranked Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport as the most Muslim friendly airport in a non-Muslim country. Thailand aims to increase the numbers of tourist by promoting itself as a country where halal food is readily available and promote halal spas that offer separate facilities for women and men. All leading shopping malls in the country already have Muslim prayer rooms.
The TAT, Tourist Authority of Thailand, who has an office in Duabi, organized a month long festival of Thai cuisine in the UAE earlier this year to encourage visitors from the wealthy Gulf State.
According to travel industry analysts Thailand is the only Asian country with a government-sponsored campaign “Go Thai. Be Free” aimed at gay and lesbian travelers. Other South East Asian countries such as Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Myanmar see some, and in some cases all, forms of same sex contact as illegal.
Both Malaysia and Indonesia, both Muslim-majority countries, bar Israelis from visiting, Thailand in contrast has long been one o the most popular destinations for Israeli travelers with 120,000 visiting each year.
“We live in a country that is open and pretty liberal — I can’t think of a market that we wouldn’t welcome,” Wisoot Buachoom, the director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s office in the northern city of Chiang Mai, told the New York Times.