FOREIGN travellers have become the driving force behind a boom in the Kingdom’s secondary tourism destinations, an online travel agency says.
Statistics show that nearly 90 per cent of the demand for stays in Chiang Rai, Koh Lipe, Mae Hong Son, Trang and Trat came from international travellers in the 12 months to the end of the second quarter of 2018, online platform Expedia said. It said the pace of overall inbound demand to these destinations has grown by 30 per cent year on year.
A closer look at the inbound trends by destination showed that Trat was the most popular destination amongst the five, seizing nearly half of the overall inbound demand followed by Koh Lipe and Chiang Rai. While Trat and Koh Lipe each experienced inbound growth of 20 per cent year on year, it was Chiang Rai that led the chart with 60 per cent growth. During the same period, Mae Hong Son and Trang enjoyed a healthy year-on-year growth above 40 per cent.
Dotted with islands, beaches and forests, Trat and Trang were particularly popular among European travellers. Swedish, German and Danish travellers made up nearly 40 per cent of the overall international demand in these destinations. They also booked on average of 71 days in advance before they travel (25 days earlier than average booking window), paid 15 per cent more than the average daily rate (ADR), and stayed five days per trip (1.3 times longer than average length of stay). Hence, this makes them an attractive source of demand for hotel partners.
Up north, blessed by the historical charm of Wat Rong Khun with mountainous trails and hill tribes, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son proved to be more appealing to Asian travellers. Almost half of the inbound demand originated from Indonesia, China, Japan and South Korea. However, when it comes to the high-value spenders, it was the US and UK travellers that fuelled the steady ADR growth in Mae Hong Son and Chiang Rai with a positive growth of 10 per cent and more than 5 per cent year on year respectively. These long-haul travellers also tend to book for accommodation 25 days to 35 days in advance.
Among the five destinations, Koh Lipe recorded the highest ADR, thanks to its white-sand islands, coral reefs and tropical forests. While the inbound demand was led by Sweden, travellers from the US demonstrated strong growth momentum (40 per cent year on year), coupled with positive ADR growth (under 10 per cent year on year).
Data from the Expedia Group also confirmed that the American travellers were more generous than Swedish visitors as they typically paid 20 per cent more on accommodation than their Swedish counterparts. Travellers from the UK proved to be another valuable source for revenue growth as they were the only long-haul travellers that contributed a double-digit ADR growth (10 per cent year on year) to Koh Lipe during the same period.
“It is encouraging to see the surge of international travellers exploring the lesser known destinations of Thailand,” said Pimpawee Nopakitgumjorn, market management director at Expedia Group.
“With 675 million visitors to our portfolio of travel brands every month, we believe Expedia Group is playing an important role in supporting the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s latest Go Local campaign.”