Manama: Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will this month visit Bahrain and Qatar on her first trip to the Middle East since taking office last year.
Boosting cooperation in trade and medical services will top the agenda of her talks in the two Gulf countries on May 13-16, Narong Sasitorn, the director-general of the Department of South Asian, Middle East and African Affairs, told reporters in Bangkok.
In Bahrain, Shinawatra discuss energy cooperation and construction projects including the new international airport and town improvement, the Thai official said.
King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa last month visited Thailand and held talks with the Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn and the Thai premier.
King Hamad and Shinawatra said that they looked forward to stronger ties and higher levels of cooperation, mainly in the trade and business sectors.
The Bahraini monarch was in Thailand following a historic three-day trip to Japan, his first to the Far East, where he held talks with the emperor, the prime minister and senior officials.
Shinawatra, Thailand's first female Prime Minister and the youngest in over 60 years, will be accompanied during her visit to Manama by a delegation of businesspeople who will explore with their Bahraini counterparts opportunities to invest in Bahrain.
King Hamad said during the talks that he welcomed Thai investments in Bahrain's infrastructure, Bahrain's official news agency said.
In Qatar, the Thai prime minister will focus on cooperation in health services and in construction projects including football stadiums and the athletes' dormitories, as the country is bidding to host the 2020 Olympics, news site mcot.net reported.
Thailand is among the destinations favoured by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nationals and residents.
Last month, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said that it expected travel from the GCC to increase this year by 10 per cent over 2011.
Juthaporn Rerngronasa, TAT Deputy Governor for International Marketing, attributed the positive outlook to the authority's proactive strategy of engagement with the regional travel trade, airlines and agents, Thailand's continuing success in offering value-for-money as a leisure and business destination, the variety of tourism products on offer and Thai hospitality.
The official said at a forum in Dubai that TAT was shifting from its traditional mass marketing to focus its efforts on niche markets targeted at specific customer segments in specific countries.
Middle East niche tourism products for Health and Wellness, Wedding and Honeymoon, Green Tourism and Golf will be highlighted under the new strategy.
For Health and Wellness, major and minor surgeries along with cosmetics and dental care at Thailand's specialized hospitals will be promoted, she said.
For the wedding and honeymoon market, TAT will introduce major romantic attractions in northern and southern Thailand with a focus on idyllic locations, outstanding hospitality and expertise in planning weddings and events.
Green Tourism will highlight Thailand's more than 100 green hotels and 50 ready-to-market eco-friendly products from around the country, she said.
According to Rerngronasa, Middle East marketing strategies will feature a call to action to enjoy the many "Miracle Moments" Thailand has to offer, including unique selling propositions for the kingdom's culture, heritage, way of life and popular festivals, in order to attract both first-time and repeat visitors.