As Thailand gradually reopens its borders, new findings from a global study suggests that four out of five (82%) Thais are confident that Thailand is well-prepared to reopen its tourism and leisure activities, the highest globally. The study also found that tourists from Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia and India are all targeting Thailand as their first destination when their countries’ borders reopen.
Jointly conducted by leading social research agency Blackbox Research, data provider Dynata, and language partner Language Connect, Unravel Travel: Fear & Possibilities in a Post Coronavirus (COVID-19) World examines the sentiments, preferences, and expectations of 10,195 people across 17 countries regarding travel in a post-COVID-19 world.
Thailand’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism, with foreign tourist dollars contributing around 11% to the national economy. The vast majority (93%) of Thais recognise the importance of the tourism sector is to the local economy. In fact, 22% of Thais agree that there is an urgent need for tourism boards, including their own, to promote tourism for economic reasons – the highest globally.
Saurabh Sardana, chief operating officer of Blackbox Research, said: “It is evident from our findings the immense value tourism contributes to Thailand’s economy. As Thailand progressively opens its borders to international visitors, its immediate priority will be to regain traveller confidence, through reinforcing how Thailand has in place strict health and safety measures, keeping everyone safe.”
“In turn, businesses and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) need to work collaboratively and ensure full compliance with these measures, and effectively communicate their efforts through the right channels. Only through stringent health protocols and regular public communication can the tourism industry successfully revitalise itself,” he added.
Amongst Southeast Asian countries, Thailand has the strongest domestic appeal. 91% of Thais are keen to support local travel attractions in the next 12 months – a positive sign given Thailand’s recent investment of THB 22.4 billion (USD 720 million) to stimulate its domestic tourism, of which partial financial aid will be provided to local tourists for selected hotels and restaurants throughout the country.
Other key findings from the survey were:
- Overall, international leisure travel in the short term is off the schedule for most people, with 44% of respondents still keen to avoid international vacations.
- Notably, Japanese (32%), Filipinos (42%), New Zealanders (43%) and Australians (52%) are least eager to take long-haul trips.
- Australia and Japan emerged as the two most popular destinations for Asian travellers, while Spain is on the top of the list of European travellers given their June COVID-19 cases saw a downward trend.
- The countries whose tourism appeal took the biggest hit during the pandemic are China, Italy, and the US.