Europe remains the key market to raise Thailand’s quality tourism benchmark. The importance of Europe is underlined by the fact that 65% of European visitors make repeat visits to the country, an outstanding fact that underscores Thailand enviable status as a top leisure travel destination. European holidaymakers started to venture into Thailand in the mid-seventies -particularly from Germany and Scandinavian countries. While Thailand attracted new travellers from Central and Eastern Europe since the late 1990s, Western Europe can now be considered as a mature market.
Maturity means that European travellers are probably the keenest among all holidaymakers in Thailand to venture beyond traditional destinations to discover new activities.
Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said, “Thailand’s focus now is on enhancing the image of Thailand to be a “Quality Leisure Destination through Thainess.” At the same time, we need to ensure a balance between tourism growth and its social and environmental impact.”
Reviewing the country’ tourism performance in 2015, Thailand received €35.2 billion in tourism-related revenues from all international market- a growth of 23% over 2014. Total international travellers reached 29.8 million, up 20% from 2014.
Arrivals from Europe have historically played a major role in the development of Thai tourism since ITB was established 50 years ago. In 2015, European visitor arrivals reached 5.6 million generating €10.3 billion in revenues. While European arrivals reached last year a market share of 18.8% -down from 24.8% in 2014 due to a collapse in Russian tourists’ arrivals-, tourism revenues from Europe represented a total share of 29.3%.
In 2014, the Europe market showed the highest average length of stay of all of the regions with 16.4 days per person, with the average daily expenditure around 106 Euros. This year, Thailand is targeting a 4.38% increase in tourism revenue from the Europe Market.
Europe tops Thailand’s agenda to boost upscale, niche-market tourism to the country. They included luxury travel options and niche markets such as weddings and honeymoons, wellness and spas, community-based attractions and sports tourism.
Sports are indeed the new focus for the Minister. Mrs Wattanavrangkul highlighted that “they are more travellers who want to join sport activities in Thailand. Now we are ready to pair tourism and sports into one. Sports such as Muay Thai boxing, rock climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, marathons, golf, tennis and sailing are widely available in the country with highly skilled tuition and support services.”