The Old Man Who Sits At The Bar

Nigel Oakins

28 Jun 2023

I have often thought if Thailand truly got its act together then it would be totally unfair on all of our neighbours.

Beaches, islands, dive sites, golf-courses, cuisine, people, sunshine, treks, hiking, rock-climbing and you name it, Thailand has much to offer. I wonder, however, just how much of the success of tourism marketing is down to clever ad campaigns and how much is just pure DNA.

Amazing Thailand: It Begins With The People, is a nice extension to what has been an enduring two-word campaign that works because, well it’s hard to argue that Thailand is not amazing. Marketing a destination has kept slogan makers busy, and international media awash with cash, but do these catch phrases really make a difference. If Thailand was just say, Ordinary Thailand: where people are just people, would millions arrive in the kingdom every year or would they stay away.

Malaysia: Malaysia Truly Asia sounds more like wishful thinking whereas Taiwan the Heart of Asia really just smacks of bad geography.

India: Incredible India is punchy and one up on amazing but the copywriter most likely did not have too many “I’”s to choose from when told these things work best with alliteration.

Indonesia: Wonderful Indonesia is not a patch on amazing or incredible but the writer in this case was late to the party and the two better words had already gone.

Singapore: Your Singapore maybe met the brief to keep things to three words or less but other than that appears to have nothing going for it. I can just see the Singapore marketing guru coming up with Efficient Singapore only to be told it was not punchy enough then saying you write it then before thinking, I know, Your Singapore.

Myanmar: goes with Let the Journey Begin when the question should be when will it ever end?  

Brunei: is the kingdom of unexpected mostly this I think refers to the fact that few tourists are expected each year as hardly anyone knows what to do if you do turn up in the kingdom.

Cambodia: Talking of kingdoms Cambodia is the Kingdom of Wonder, no doubt being the wonder of Seam Reap rather than the wonder of how one man can stay in power running the country for so long.

Hong Kong: was once China’s World City which must have upset so many other cities in China that it has now been changed to Hong Kong Will Take Your Breath Away. It’s definitely an audacious claim but with air pollution so rampant in much of the region they should at least get full marks for honesty now.

China: Like Never Before has an air of inscrutability about it and some honesty too, as much of the ancient artefacts and historical heritage has sadly disappeared in the rush for modernisation. 

Vietnam: Vietnam has a Timeless Charm and Laos is Simply Beautiful both of which do have a ring of truth to them and suggest the characteristics of the wonderful people that live in those countries.

Macau: goes with A World of Difference, The Difference Is Macau winning the prize for the longest slogan and suggesting the writer may have been paid by the word in this case.

Philippines: But my favourite for the region has to be Its More Fun in the Philippines as it absolutely rings of truthfulness as who can say that anything is ever taken seriously there.

This issue number five of Koktail magazine celebrates the Thailand wave currently picking up steam in the middle of the Andaman sea. If you live here, or are just visiting, get away from the beaches and temples and get out into the streets, villages, hills, farmland, rivers and cafes and talk to the people to find out just why it’s now Thailand’s time.