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Study finds 82% of Thais “confident” in reopening tourism sector

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PHOTO: Bangkok Jack

As Thailand gradually reopens its borders, new findings from a global study suggests that 82% of 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” examined 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 revenue contributing around 11% to the national economy. The vast majority (93%) of Thais recognise the importance of the tourism sector  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, CEO of Blackbox Research, says that both regional interest and citizen sentiment toward restarting local tourism have been encouraging, especially given the country’s phased approach in reopening to business and medical tourists. Sardana notes that establishing traveller’s trust in health and safety protocols is key, and that Thailand needs to capitalise on its success in containing the COVID-19 outbreak.

“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 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.

“With Thailand’s currently low rate of coronavirus infections, and its strong public health system which played a key role in its tackling of the pandemic, the country is well placed to be recognised on the regional and global stage as a trusted destination.”

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 22.4 billion baht (US$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.

Sardana notes that, while the financial aid will definitely play a part in encouraging locals to travel domestically, the government needs to also take into consideration how travel priorities have shifted in response to the pandemic.

“Our study has found that price is not necessarily the highest priority for their next trip – this applies to all the key areas such as transport, accommodation, and attraction. Instead, visitor safety measures overwhelmingly ranked top of the list for most Thai travellers.

“To complement these stimulus measures, both the government and tourism operators need to work together to ensure safety and cleanliness protocols are met at all times, giving travellers a sense of security as domestic tourism demand begins to kick in. Establishing confidence amongst locals will also help tell the story of trust to a wider international audience.”

“What the study has shown us is that the pandemic has unequivocally shifted how we see travel. In order for travel industry players to stay relevant, they need to change the way they approach every aspect and touchpoint in the traveller experience, emphasising safety and rebuilding trust.”

For more information, please contact:

Chris Koh – Head of Communications
Blackbox Research
Telephone: +65 9765 4388
Email: chris@blackbox.com.sg

Sharon Tan – Account Manager
Baldwin Boyle Group
Telephone: +65 9793 1532
Email: sharon.tan@baldwinboyle.com

Terence Ong – Account Executive
Baldwin Boyle Group
Telephone: +65 9128 1898
Email: terence.ong@baldwinboyle.com

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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