The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) says it faces a challenge in sustaining growth momentum for the rest of the year after five straight quarters of breakneck growth.
"Thai tourism has been developing for more than two decades, while some neighbouring countries such as Laos and Myanmar just opened their doors," said market research director Yuvadee Nirattakun.
"So many people say these countries look like young women while Thailand is like a lady aged over 30."
She said the TAT is working hard to find ways to lure both first-time and repeat tourists, with each tourist group requiring a different strategy.
The agency recently conducted a study of 5,215 repeat visitors from 20 countries, dividing them into four groups based on destinations and activities.
The Old Habit group, primarily from India, Germany, Britain and Singapore, prefers going to the same provinces and doing the same activities every visit.
The Location Fanatic group, mainly from Russia, Malaysia, India and Indonesia, goes to the same provinces each visit but looks for new activities.
The Activity Compulsive group, mainly from Singapore, Indonesia, France and Switzerland, prefers new provinces but does the same activities.
True Explorers, mainly from Australia, China, Taiwan and Britain, prefer new provinces and new activities.
The True Explorers like culturally enriching activities, while Location Fanatics are drawn to a variety of city activities and convenient transport.
The Old Habit group prefers familiarity, comfort and local living.
Some 85% of respondents called Thailand the most interesting tourist destination in Asia after China and Japan, while 80% like Thailand for its value, wide range of activities and climate.
Promotions are not a major factor for repeat visitors. Respondents also said they have yet to see any clear measures for tourist safety and environmental conservation.
On average, repeat visitors plan their vacations 116 days in advance, book air tickets 43 days in advance and reserve rooms 33 days in advance.
They like to travel alone or in a group of two to four people. They spend 41,781 baht a person each trip.
The five main activities are nature tours (41.7%), market tours (10.9%), shopping (10.8%), nightlife (10%) and community lifestyle and cultural tours (8.4%).
The TAT will conduct more research in 2014 on high-potential markets Russia, China, India and Indonesia.
Foreign travellers rose 18.9% to 6.8 million in the first quarter, fetching 352 billion baht, up by 25.6%.
About the author
- Writer: Chadamas Chinmaneevong