TAT survey notes spending surge

TAT survey notes spending surge

Foreigners stroll along Chatuchak weekend market on Feb 25. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
Foreigners stroll along Chatuchak weekend market on Feb 25. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

Foreign tourists spent more on accommodation following the pandemic and opted for street food more than fine dining, while TikTok has gained prominence among people seeking information and inspiration for trips to the nation, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

Teerasil Tapen, deputy governor for digital R&D at TAT, said an agency survey of 30,054 tourists in 2023 found individual travellers reported average spending of 50,900 baht per trip, increasing from 48,209 baht in 2019 and 44,607 baht in 2022.

Accommodation accounted for 23,518 baht per trip, rising from 18,451 baht prior to the pandemic and 19,235 baht in 2022.

Tourists preferred to stay in more luxury hotels or resorts after paying higher airfares, he said.

Mr Teerasil said meal choices also changed as the number of tourists opting for street food increased from 63% to 77.3%.

The affordability of street food resulted in lower expenditure on food and beverage as tourists spent 4,094 baht on average for this category, down from 5,875 baht in 2019.

"We noticed people craved street food more than before as they sought local travel experiences, while the popularity of fine dining dropped from 47.7% in 2019 to 43.2% last year," he said.

"The preference for street food helped spur tourism expenditure to more local operators."

Moreover, the culture of café hopping rose significantly, from 11.6% in 2019 to 33.2% in 2023, along with the rising trend of coffee consumption globally.

Among all nationalities, tourists from the Middle East were the biggest spenders with an average of 88,512 baht per trip, followed by those from Oceania (64,860 baht), the US (60,474 baht) and Europe (59,345 baht).

Mr Teerasil said 53.7% of individual travellers relied on online bookings via websites or apps to book their trips and services in Thailand, while travel agents or tour operators accounted for 22.6%, as some people still prefer utilising services from agents, such as one-day tours or accommodation from contracts with agent companies.

The TAT's digital department requested around 180 million baht in the fiscal 2024 budget, and he said the agency will mainly use social media to penetrate platforms that have the potential to feed information directly to targeted tourists.

As of 2023, TAT had more than 6.4 million followers on its official Line account, while the Amazing Thailand Facebook page had 2.6 million, and X 201,456 followers.

However, the fastest growing platform in 2022-2023 was TikTok, rising 97.2% to almost 30,000 users within a year, followed by 10% growth of Instagram followers, tallying almost 200,000 users.

Mr Teerasil said the number of followers on all TAT social platforms was much higher as each global TAT office has its own channels to communicate in local languages, such as China's unique social media platforms.

"With the growing trend of short reels or stories on social media, we will partner with key opinion leaders or influencers with many followers to promote destinations and activities in Thailand to new users," he said.

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