Thailand has long been beloved by Australian travellers, and it's a love we don't mind splashing out on.
In an interview with Traveltalk at this year's Thailand Travel Mart (TTM), Thailand Tourism and Sport Minister H.E. Mrs Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said Australians were now the biggest spenders per capita when visiting the SE Asian nation – and when you think of the cashed up markets that flock here each year from Japan, Western Europe and North America to name but a few, you realise the significance of this.
Although Australian visitor numbers to Thailand fell slightly by 1.96% to 791,631 in 2016, numbers this year are already looking positive, with arrivals already up 3.5% in the first four months of 2017, according to Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) South Asia and South Pacific Region Executive Director Dr Walailak Noypayak.
Speaking to Traveltalk at TTM, which was held this week in Chiang Mai, Dr Walailak said Aussies stayed longer than other markets, with the average length of stay for an Australian some 13 days. And they average around 4,000 baht (over $150) per day, she said.
All of this augurs well for Thailand’s new strategy of valuing tourism revenue over arrival numbers.
Despite ranking 13th overall in terms of visitor numbers, the Australian market places fifth in total spending. But there is still much more room for growth.
“Australians don’t know many things about Thailand,” Dr Walailak said, referring to an Australian perception that Thailand is mostly a beach destination.
“But we can offer more than beach: sports, health and wellness, culture.”
Add food to that. Later this year, the country will welcome its very own Michelin Guide, an important step in the recognition of Thai food as one of the most popular cuisines, while CNN recently voted Thai street food as the world’s best.
In 2016, Thailand welcomed 32.6 million international visitors, a y-o-y increase of 8.9%.
The 16th Thailand Travel Mart Plus: Amazing Gateway to the Greater Mekong Subregion (TTM+) 2017 is Thailand’s annual B2B tourism showcase, and this year saw some 400 international buyers, including 22 from Australia, meet with 492 sellers from Thailand and GMS countries.