Thailand has been for long one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia. For people in Western countries, tourism in Asia is overwhelmingly associated with Thailand, and in particular, with Bangkok. There are several popular destinations in Thailand Tourism besides Bangkok, such as, Krabi Phuket, Samui, Hua Hin, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.
However, there have been massive political unrests in the country since 2013. The anti-government protests were at their virulent best towards late 2013 and early 2014, and this year, things are far calmer in Thailand. But the political turmoil certainly did not help matters with respect to tourism, which led to a significant drop in the number of tourists visiting Thailand in 2013 and 2014.
Also, it is a fact that even at its worst, no foreign tourist was hurt in the political unrests in Thailand. The protestors in the country never took their ire out on foreign tourists and largely ignored them. Even so, those wanting to visit Thailand could simply take a direct flight to Phuket instead of landing at Bangkok directly. This way, it is possible to completely bypass any of the protests in the country.
A majority of the tourists to Thailand are rich Chinese nationals, who are actually first time travelers, taking advantage of the fast rising Chinese economy and big, fat salaries to explore the world. For middle class Chinese, Thailand is the gateway to the world, the first foreign country to be visited before moving on further, to explore much distant lands such as Europe and the United States. Visiting Thailand is for them the very first step in their journey as international tourists.
Equally, Thailand Tourism enjoys great popularity among foreign tourists hailing from Europe and North America. For them, Bangkok is forever associated with fun, romance and debauchery. Other Thai destinations such as Phuket are also extremely popular with Western tourists, and particularly so among a class of people we refer to as “Digital Nomads” – bloggers, internet entrepreneurs and writers, who carry their work with them wherever they go to.
Thailand Tourism has benefited greatly by the growing number of low cost carriers in the country such as Thai Lion Air. Thai Lion Air cut down price of air travel significantly. Older and more established Thai airlines such as Thai Air Asia and Nok Air were forced to reciprocate with their own rate cuts. The beneficiaries of the price war in the airline industry have been the foreign tourists and domestic Thai passengers.
The tourism industry in Thailand is highly advanced and sophisticated. Much of the bookings in restaurants, hotels, flights, car rentals in the country are done online through travel portals. Several international players in the online travel industry such as Agoda, Expedia have expanded their business in Thailand forming business partnerships with young local Thai business partners. Thailand for them represents a great opportunity to make massive profits.
In spite the current political strife, we are generally very positive about what lies in store for tourism in Thailand. Certainly, if you are involved in the tourism industry, you are missing out on a great deal if you haven’t already expanded your business to Thailand.
Tourism in Asia is not just about exploring the beaches in Sri Lanka, the Great Wall of China or the shopping malls of Singapore. It is equally about medical tourism (hospitals), health tourism (holistic health care centers) and business tourism (corporate retreats). To put it simply, tourism is BIG business in Asia. If your company in involved in tourism, this represents an excellent opportunity to form highly profitable business partnerships with local entrepreneurs involved in the Thailand Tourism industry.
In this series of articles based on the theme “Tourism Asia”, we analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the Tourism Industry in various Asian countries. Our goal is to feed you the most up-to-date information so that you’ll know exactly what lies ahead as you look to identify business partners and expand your business in these countries.