Online agents upbeat on growth outlook
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Online agents upbeat on growth outlook

Ms Gao expects Thai tourism to keep growing steadily.
Ms Gao expects Thai tourism to keep growing steadily.

Global online travel agents (OTAs) remain bullish about Thai tourism growth this year, driven by a strong wave of arrivals.

Wilfred Fan, chief commercial officer at Klook, an online travel platform, said the company reported a 1,200% increase year-on year in bookings for activities in Thailand in the first five months of 2023.

Klook's top five markets are Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia.

Klook found more travellers are seeking purposeful travel, especially members of Generation Z (Gen Z) and millennials, leading it to launch a new product called Stay+ that bundles accommodation with tourism activities.

Klook also offers bundle passes providing access to various attractions located in Bangkok and Pattaya, and Phuket and Chiang Mai. Consumers can select their preferred activities from a list and enjoy significant discounts.

Both of these bundles would help drive customers to new destinations and extend their lengths of stay.

Mr Fan said political uncertainty in Thailand hasn't caused any slowdown. Thailand is still maintaining its popularity among foreign consumers, mainly driven by increasing flight capacity and the weaker baht at present, he said.

Mr Fan says political uncertainty in Thailand hasn't caused any slowdown in terms of online bookings.

However, there could be more challenges in future pertaining to labour shortages as the number of tourist arrivals is continuing to grow at a rapid pace.

Michelle Gao, regional manager for the Mekong Region at, expects Thai tourism to keep growing steadily when compared with last year in terms of room nights and booking revenues, mainly attributed to a strong inbound market.

Thailand has been a popular destination since last year among tourists from the country's traditional markets -- Western Europe, Russia, the US, and Australia.

The platform also reported rapid growth from new markets such as India and the Middle East.

As the Chinese market is expected to see a significant rebound in the next quarter, this would eventually result in Thailand's growth accelerating even faster.

The platform saw the number of room nights globally in the first quarter increase by 26% when compared with the level recorded in 2019.

While Phuket, Chiang Mai and Bangkok might be the priority destinations in Thailand among foreign tourists, there is now a new trend of inbound visitors heading for secondary cities in the northeastern region as they seek unique experiences in terms of food culture as well as wellness retreats.

Ms Gao said she hopes Thailand would be able to promote those new destinations in order to respond to changing demand.

Despite global inflation and the risk of recession, Ms Gao said these factors wouldn't cause bookings to ease as pent-up demand would continue to be the key driver.

However, consumers may seek greater value and extra benefits before making their bookings.

She said would continue to strengthen its position through its flexible booking policy, along with its loyalty programme, which offers direct discounts or free room upgrades.

Boosting sustainable tourism would also lay the foundations for the overall tourism industry in the future, she said. launched a sustainable travel badge for eligible hotels, including 6,500 hotels in Thailand, and continues to encourage more of them to join the campaign.

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