Search data reveals Thais’ sound travel plans beyond the wish-list and Thailand cities rank among top destinations.
COVID-19 has put a halt in travel the way this world had never seen before. Travel plans cancelled, airlines temporarily discontinued services, hotels paused operations, and cities locked down. Tourism and hospitality industries were the first to experience a significant drop in business from the very early stage of the pandemic. According to The Ministry of Tourism and Sports (MOTS), inbound travelers in February 2020 dropped from 2019 by 42.78%, and a more significant drop by 76.41% in March 2020. Contributed to the decline reported by MOTS were the top 15 countries for inbound travelers with China dropping the most by 59.4%, Hong Kong 49.8%, South Korea 44.2%, Malaysia 38.3%, Singapore 37%, India 33.6%, Taiwan 32.5%, Indonesia by 29.3%, Japan 28%, Vietnam 26.5%, Myanmar 26.3% UAE 20.1%, Cambodia 23%, Qatar 5.0%, and Russia 0.6%, The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand revealed these results gathered during the first quarter of 2020.
Traveling is still an uncertainty for Thai travelers. In addition, Thailand’s Civil Aviation Authority’s mandate to extend the International passenger flight ban until June 30, 2020, meant long-haul overseas trips are yet to be planned for, while domestic and short-haul travel planning has proven to be more promising according to search data collected by Expedia.co.th.
For the entire month of April 2020, Expedia studied over 5,000 searches on its website by visitors looking to travel from April 2020 onwards. Results revealed that there is high thirst for travel, and Thais were searching and planning well beyond merely browsing. Dates were chosen for future check-in periods, showing more confidence in making the bookings; displaying the fact that the site visitors were indeed inclined to actual traveling and scheduling in mind.
High interest in domestic travel
Data found that seven out of the Top 10 destinations searched for check-in period between October and December 2020 were mostly within Thailand:
- Phuket, Thailand: 12.82%
- Bangkok, Thailand: 11.54%
- Chiang Mai: 4.88%
- Pattaya, Thailand: 4.84%
- Tokyo, Japan: 4.42%
- Krabi, Thailand: 3.98%
- Koh Samui: 3.5%
- Osaka, Japan: 2.88%
- Trat, Thailand : 2.8%
- Seoul, South Korea: 2.58%
Similarly, looking out to the year 2021, Top 10 destinations searched for check-in period in 2021 during the months of January and February also consisted mostly of domestic travel:
- Tokyo, Japan: 1.92%
- Phuket, Thailand: 1.86%
- Bangkok, Thailand: 1.32%
- Sapporo, Japan: 0.78%
- Seoul, South Korea: 0.76%
- Krabi, Thailand: 0.68%
- Pattaya, Thailand: 0.62%
- Chiang Mai: 0.60%
- Koh Samui: 0.40%
- Phang Nga: 0.38%
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, every year, The Land of Smiles saw more and more tourists arriving at its major and secondary travel destinations. Its white beaches to historic temples and mouthwatering food attracted not only the locals but tourists around the world. More importantly, Thai hospitality always comes in as a winner. From an analysis of hotel guest review data taken from January 2018 to December 2019, 10 cities in Thailand were not only appealing to tourists but rated as top friendliest cities in the country by overall sentiment on the volume of guest reviews with mentions of "friendly, friendliest" and other keywords and terminology used in the model. Koh Samui came in as number one on the list, followed by Chiang Mai, Karon Beach, Hua Hin, Choeng Thale, Krabi, Patong, Pattaya, Bangkok, and Bang Phli, respectively.
“Thailand has and always will be a distinguished destination. With over 1,500 miles of coastline, historic temples and palaces and not to mention incredible food from street food to world-renown gastronomy. Thailand, along with other major countries around the world, struggled with the pandemic effect, but we are very certain that it will be one of the first few nations to bounce back rapidly. The government support for travel and tourism is phenomenal with close and pre-calculated monitoring and execution measures provided province by province. So far, we have seen Prachuab Kiri Khan, Naan, and Korat that have opened their towns to travelers with Phuket, Krabi, and many others in the pipeline. With the easing of lockdown measures, uncertainty is still in order. But we are delighted to be part of our travelers’ life in dreaming, searching and planning for their upcoming, or we can even call it the dream trips. With more flexible policies in place on Expedia.co.th, travelers can now search and book with more confidence, which is key in a post-pandemic era.” said Lavinia Rajaram, APAC Head of Communications, Expedia.
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