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Foreigners Increasingly Taking the Road Less Traveled in Thailand




CHIANG RAI – According to online travel group Expedia, foreign travellers have become the driving force behind the eco tourism boom in Thailand’s secondary destinations, with nearly 90% growth in such visitors during the 12 months that ended in February.

Overall inbound demand to Chiang Rai, Koh Lipe, Mae Hong Son, Trang and Trat on Expedia’s travel platform grew by 30% during the period.

Among the five destinations, Trat was the most popular, seizing almost half of overall demand, followed by Koh Lipe and Chiang Rai.

In terms of year-on-year growth, Chiang Rai led with 60%, followed by Mae Hong Son and Trang with 40% each and Trat and Koh Lipe with 20% each.

With stunning islands, beaches and green forests, Trat and Trang are popular among European travellers. Swedish, German and Danish travellers account for nearly 40% of overall international demand.

On average, these travellers book 71 days in advance, spending 15% more than the average daily rate (ADR), and stay five days per trip. All of which makes them an attractive source of demand for Expedia’s hotel partners.

Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son are more appealing to Asian travellers, whose destinations include Wat Rong Khun, mountainous trails and hill-tribe villages. Almost half of the demand is from Indonesian, Chinese, Japanese and South Korean tourists.

The high-value spenders, however, are American and British travellers, who have fuelled ADR growth in Mae Hong Son and Chiang Rai to the tune of 10% and 5%, respectively. The Americans and the British tend to book their accommodation 25-35 days in advance.

The highest ADR growth was experienced by Koh Lipe, thanks to its white-sand beaches, coral reefs and lush tropical forests. Although the majority of inbound demand was from Swedish travellers, there was strong 40% growth in demand from American travellers.

According to Expedia, US travellers were the more generous spenders, typically paying 20% more on accommodation than their Swedish counterparts. British travellers also proved valuable, as they alone contributed to 10% ADR growth in Koh Lipe.

“It is encouraging to see the surge of international travellers exploring the lesser-known destinations of Thailand,” said Pimpawee Nopakitgumjorn, Expedia’s market management director. “With 675 million visitors to our portfolio of travel brands monthly, we believe Expedia Group is playing an important role in supporting the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s latest ‘Go Local’ campaign.”