The domestic tourist market (based on the number of visitors/trip) has plummeted remarkably since 2006 despite steady growth during the preceding five years. The setback can be attributed to numerous negative factors both domestically and abroad, especially higher travel expenses as a result of very high fuel prices. Under these circumstances, long-haul travel has evidently slowed, while short-haul trips have been flourishing.
There are also other unfavorable factors that have undermined the tourism atmosphere and tourists' confidence toward personal security. Among them are the southern unrest that has expanded from the three southernmost provinces to Hat Yai in Songkhla – a tourism venue in the lower south of Thailand – plus several bomb blasts in Bangkok at the end of 2006, and political turmoil and demonstrations in many areas. Meanwhile, the strengthening Baht has proved to be a boon to outbound tourism.
Based on the domestic tourism statistics of the Tourism Authority of Thailand in 2006, it was found that the number Thai-national domestic trips totaled 81.49 million persons/trip, rising by 2.5 percent versus the somewhat larger growth of 6.3 percent in 2005. This deceleration was seen in the first setback in the number of overnight trips, which declined 7.8 percent to 45.57 million passenger journeys, against the average growth of 7 percent per annum between 2001-2005. At the same time, the number of day trips grew 19.1 percent to 36.0 million passenger journeys, compared to the average annual growth of 10 percent between 2001-2005.
Looking at the domestic tourist market, it was found that Bangkok travelers – the key component of this market – had switched from long-haul trips to short-haul destinations not far from Bangkok. The number of overnight trips saw a drop in all regions. Some 28 percent of these trips were to Bangkok, but the total number of these journeys was down by 2.7 percent, over-year.
At the same time, the number of day-trips were rising in all regions, with 21 percent making their way to Bangkok, up 18.2 percent, year-on-year. The number of holidaymakers visiting eastern coast destinations ranked first, up 28.1 percent, over-year, followed by trips to central region tourist venues, rising by 26.0 percent.
Thai tourists' spending on domestic trips in 2006 generated domestic tourism income of around THB365.276 billion, up 9.1 percent over 2005. Most of this cashflow, approximately 88 percent, was income from Thai tourists taking overnight trips and the rest –12 percent – was from day-trips.
KASIKORN RESEARCH CENTER (KResearch) forecasts that the market for Thais making domestic trips will remain steadily slow throughout 2007 with Thai tourists taking around 84 million persons/trip,up 3 percent over 2006. This will; have created tourism income domestically of around THB370 billion, increasing 1 percent over 2006.
The above trend in Thai domestic tourism should be supported to boost income in many ways, e.g., increasing the number of journeys, the length of stay and the total spending during each trip. Examples of implementing these approaches are represented in the following:
- Promote short-distance trips that have a fully integrated services, including a variety of activities to attract tourists and stimulate more overnight trips. This would help each trip generate more tourism income.
- Promote weekday trips and not concentrate only on weekends or long consecutive holidays, which would create income for the tourism-support services steadily throughout the entire week.
- Promote merit-making tours that are popular at present. Diversify merit-making activities according to the traditions and culture of each locality to attract more tourists.
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