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North Asia bookings power Thai short-haul revival

Latest analysis from Abacus and Forward Data SL shows promising signs of recovery for Thailand’s travel sector, boosted by renewed confidence from North Asia.

SINGAPORE – The negative impact of Thailand’s latest coup d’etat on the country’s tourism sector has been widely documented, with the near collapse of intra-regional bookings earlier in the year. However, latest analysis from Abacus and Forward Data SL reveals promising signs of an inbound revival for the resilient Thai tourist sector, now that the curfews are being lifted. 
North Asian markets are powering the recovery with renewed confidence among Abacus travel agents in Seoul generating a 67% spike in air bookings for the island of Phuket in Q2. Seoul to Bangkok reservations are also up 19% on the same period last year.
Shanghai and Hong Kong travellers have also reportedly taken a more positive stance on the Land of Smiles, returning to the capital in 31% and 18% higher numbers respectively over Q2, compared to Q1 Abacus numbers. The decline in Taipei’s flight reservations for Thailand has also slowed dramatically and should turn around soon.
Said Steven Ong, GM for Abacus in Thailand, “Political unrest is not new to this market and our reputation for exceptional hospitality is working in our favour, with the caution post-coup giving way to more practical concerns over accommodation and exchange rates. Thailand could now be through the worst.
The analysis is supported with statistics from traveller data intelligence specialist, which earlier this year documented a catastrophic 79% drop in bookings from within the Asia Pacific region in the 22 May week of the coup – along with the corollary of a 33% increase in outbound bookings.
Phuket bookings from 22 May to 16 June fell by -13% and to Bangkok by -42%. However, as early as the week of 10 June, China’s bookings for arrivals in September were up by a factor of 6, when compared to same period in 2013. The mainland was effectively leading the regional recovery.
Teflon Thailand always rebounds,” added Olivier Jager, CEO for Forward Keys. “Thailand’s amazing ability to recover quickly is once again materializing, with North Asia’s strong performance.
Issued bookings for future arrivals in Thailand from the Asia Pacific area may not be reaching 2013 values yet, but drops are not as deep. Those for October gave the most optimistic values with a -1.4% variation on the same month last year.
For arrivals between October and December, bookings from the main feeder of mainland China saw a moderate average 8.6% increase, with Hong Kong at 0.3%, though Japan is at -31%.
Looking ahead, Abacus expects to see inbound booking volumes lift “between 8% and 15% in aggregate for business as well as leisure travel – assuming confidence from regional markets continues to rise,” Ong concluded.

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