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International travelers fuel tourism growth in secondary destinations

Expedia Group shares latest inbound trends in view of Tourism Authority of Thailand’s 2018 “Go-Local” campaign.

Bangkok, Thailand – Expedia Group, the world’s travel platform, has revealed that international travelers have become the driving force behind the tourism boom in the Kingdom’s secondary destinations. Statistics show that nearly 90% of the demand to Chiang Rai, Koh Lipe, Mae Hong Son, Trang and Trat came from international travelers in the past 12 months ending Q2 2018, and the pace of overall inbound demand to these destinations has grown by 30% YoY.

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% YoY, it was Chiang Rai that led the chart with an impressive 60% YoY growth. During the same period, Mae Hong Son and Trang both enjoyed a healthy YoY growth ranging over 40%.

Dotted with stunning islands, beautiful beaches and green forests, Trat and Trang were particularly popular among European travelers. Swedish, German and Danish travelers alone made up nearly 40% 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% more than average daily rate (ADR), and stayed 5 days per trip (1.3 times longer than average length of stay). Hence, this makes them an attractive source of demand for hotel partners.

On the other hand, blessed by the historical charm of Wat Rong Khun with awe-inspiring mountainous trails and authentic hill-tribes, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son proved to be more appealing to Asian travelers. 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 U.S. and U.K. travelers that fueled the steady ADR growth in Mae Hong Son and Chiang Rai with a positive growth of 10% and more than 5% YoY respectively. These long-haul travelers also tend to book for accommodation 25 days to 35 days in advance.

Amongst the five destinations, Koh Lipe recorded the highest ADR, thanks to its white-sand islands, colorful coral reefs and luxuriant tropical forests. While the inbound demand was led by Sweden, travelers from the U.S. demonstrated strong growth momentum (40% YoY), coupled with positive ADR growth (under 10% YoY). Data from the Expedia Group also confirmed that the U.S. travellers were in fact more generous than Swedish visitors as they typically paid 20% more on accommodation than their Swedish counterparts. Travellers from the U.K. 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% YoY) to Koh Lipe during the same period.

It is encouraging to see the surge of international travelers exploring the lesser known destinations of Thailand. 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,” said Ms. Pimpawee Nopakitgumjorn, Market Management director at Expedia Group.

Our brands span over 200 sites, 75 countries, and 35 languages which means we can help our hotel partners diversify their guest portfolio and even out the distribution of inbound tourism between urban and rural regions. Our teams on the ground are constantly educating accommodation partners about the complexity of online travel and how they can optimize their listings on online travel agents (OTAs) to attract more high-value international visitors.” Pim added.

Our collaboration with Expedia Group has helped us to drive more valuable international demand. We see a clear trend where international guests are staying longer, spending more and booking way in advance as compared to domestic visitors. Our growth is an example of understanding international traveler trends in addition to utilizing all of the Expedia Group tools made available to us,” said Ms. Irinporn Paisalniyomsri, Director of Sales at Phu Chaisai Mountain Resort.

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Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales. She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.