Marie Anne Macrae, The Travel Corporation; Wolf
Paunic, Trafalgar; Kayla Shubert, TAT;
Katherine Chin, The Travel Corporation & Quentin Lemmer, Trafalgar
Attendees had to churn up their own green curry
chicken dish closely supervised by the chef and his assistant.
Trafalgar's Wolf Paunic was clearly enjoying the experience.
At the family-owned Sala Thai Restaurant in downtown Vancouver, Trafalgar Tours took guests on an interactive trip to Thailand.
In town to celebrate its 2015 Asia program launch, Trafalgar and co-host, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), put attendees to work as they donned aprons and prepared a green curry chicken dish from scratch. No worries for those who failed those Home Economics classes. The restaurant's staff went around giving pointers such as “turn down the heat" and “the eggplant isn't cooked yet." Entrée completed, it was time to learn to make papaya salad which we promptly consumed as our appetizer.
What a clever way to introduce Trafalgar's Thailand program offerings. But, since Thailand is just one aspect of Trafalgar's Asia program, why the sole focus on this country? According to Wolf Paunic, Trafalgar's V.P. Sales, “Thailand is the perfect getaway to Asia for travellers who have already been to Europe. It's a seamless entry to a new culture with its fantastic infrastructure and developed travel industry."
Trafalgar's “Be My Guest" program allows clients to “get an insider's point of view" by engaging with local families in Ban Mae Kampong, a village close to Chiang Mai. There, visitors sit down with the chief for a chat and get to check out the local industries of pickled tea leaves, handmade furniture and other crafts.
Paunic added that Thailand offers a wide range of different experiences. For instance, history buffs will appreciate going to Kanchanaburi and taking a train ride on Kwai River bridge. This (in)famous bridge was depicted in the Hollywood blockbuster, “The Bridge On The River Kwai".
Since it added Thailand to its Asia program 3 years ago, Trafalgar has been seeing a 30 -40% growth on a yearly basis with growth coming from the west coast in particular.
According to Kayla Shubert, TAT's Canadian Representative, in 2014, 213,161 Canadians travelled to Thailand, a decrease of 7% over the previous year possibly due in part to several months of political unrest which centred mainly around Bangkok. Despite that, about 60% were repeat visitors who stayed an average of 16 days.
As part of its “Discover Thainess" campaign, the TAT is also offering new creative Thai culinary experiences such as learning how to cook like a Thai chef. For 2015-2016, TAT is promoting the destination as the venue for honeymoons and romantic getaways.