In an effort to boost year-end tourism numbers, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has launched a savvy social media campaign entitled the, "Thailand Only Selfie Contest," encouraging visitors to take selfies at major tourist destinations for the chance to win travel packages valued at Bt370,000 (approx. $11,000).
The campaign will run from December 26, 2014 to January 4, 2014, where local and international tourists can take a selfie at any tourist attraction, and upload the photo via Instagram with the hashtag, #thailandonly, and a short description of the attraction. Upon the conclusion of the contest the TAT will judge the photos and announce a series of winners on January 20, 2014. 10 popular-vote rewards will also be given out based on social-media engagement.
Of the total Bt370,000 in prize packages, the largest single prize is an all-inclusive, expenses-paid travel package worth Bt100,000 (approx. $3,000).
The Tourism Authority Thailand hopes that by switching their focus to more social-media oriented marketing efforts and targeting the country's staggering 93.4 million cell-phone users will create a surge in year-end visitors, and hopefully overshadow many travelers' fears of the country's recently imposed police-state government.
Thailand's Current Political Climate
According to the United States Embassy in Bangkok, all non-essential travel to Thailand should be avoided, but if travel is required, be careful. As of May 22, 2014 the Royal Thai Army seized control of the government, imposing martial law, and creating a tense social climate not so conducive to tourism.
After a "wait, are they serious?" moment, and subsequent flurry of negative media attention earlier this year when the Tourism Authority Thailand advertised "Experiencing Martial Law" as a tourist attraction, it looks as though they have scaled back their misguided effort to cast a positive light on its military government, instead shifting focus towards the many worldly attractions offered.
Before considering traveling to Thailand for a chance to win the selfie-sweepstakes, make yourself familiar with the newly imposed laws, such as the 10:00pm to 5:00am curfew, and increased scrutiny by the police force.
Despite an increase in tourism numbers this fall, it's still too early to tell if Thailand's government can shake their fearsome police-state reputation, and inspire international travelers to visit. That said, their newest social media campaign is far more alluring than the experience-martial-law campaign, and the latest effort marks a positive step toward getting the country back on track as a safe tourist destination.