The return of popular international artists and live concerts to Bangkok offers multiple benefits to the Thai economy, according to Traveloka, one of Southeast Asia's largest travel, services and lifestyle apps.
There is a growing trend to travel internationally for music, sports and other major events. With the global music tourism market forecast to be worth US$11.3 billion by 2032, Thailand is well positioned to take advantage of this development.
In Asia Pacific alone, with its fast-growing youth population, the higher demand for live music performances is anticipated to lead the global music event market. That's one way a steady stream of international concerts can play a significant role in Thai tourism growth with their massive crowd-pulling abilities.
Taylor Swift's Eras tour is a good example of how concerts encourage consumption in host cities, with its US leg expected to generate up to $5 billion in economic activity, according to the online research firm QuestionPro. The spending goes well beyond event ticket sales to include not just merchandise and food and beverage but also the costs of flights, accommodation and retail sales in host cities.
With the return of live concerts approaching pre-pandemic levels, which kicked off early this year with Blackpink's two-day Bangkok stop in January, followed by Harry Styles and Arctic Monkeys concerts in March, Thailand is well on its way to benefit from the "experience economy".
According to Traveloka data, there has been a significant increase specifically for inbound flights, with the number of flight transactions increasing by almost five times for the first half 2023, compared to the same period last year. This surge in flights is also reflected in the accommodation trend, as hotel bookings in Bangkok have risen to almost 30%.
In the first half of 2023, Traveloka Thailand experienced a significant number of bookings, with the majority coming from both inbound and domestic travellers heading to Bangkok. Among inbound tourists, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, England, Singapore, Malaysia and Cambodia were the top contributors to the bookings.
At the same time, domestic tourists displayed their enthusiasm as Traveloka observed an increase in bookings from Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, Chiang Rai, Phuket, Chon Buri, Songkhla and Surat Thani to Bangkok.
Thailand enjoyed a vibrant tourism industry during the first half of 2023, and this looks to continue into 2024. This will positively affect the demand for accommodation and flights, and with added music tours making a comeback, it can also help propel the travel industry to the next level.
Music tourism is not just limited to live performances, as surrounding attractions like restaurants and historical sites can also benefit from increased visits, to name only a few examples.
With the upcoming Charlie Puth and Sam Smith concerts in October, and with fast-to-sell-out Coldplay concerts scheduled for February 2024, Thailand can expect that they will bring good tourism revenue. Travel and tourism businesses with the right strategy and approach will stand to benefit from this.
According to Iko Putera, CEO of Transport at Traveloka, this is an opportunity for those in the industry to work on delivering experiences that are complementary to the most popular concerts and music festivals, such as urban attractions and activities, cruises, and entertainment.
"What we are seeing from Traveloka data, is that international concerts in Bangkok could be one of the key drivers for leisure travel spending across a wide demographic," he said.
"Celebrating culture through music performances and entertainment should also be an integral part of Thai tourism strategy. The lineup of world-class performers for multiple shows in Bangkok serves as a remarkable achievement for its tourism industry."
Such a strategy not only promises prosperity for local businesses but also presents significant opportunities for other local services such as culinary experiences, travel insurances, and more.
"We are hopeful this phenomenon will have a positive contribution in boosting Thai small and medium-sized tourism businesses, which benefits Thailand's overall economy and tourism industry," said Mr Iko.