TripAdvisor unveils Thailand inbound study findings

August 23, 2017

TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site from reviews to bookings, revealed top inbound countries interested in Thailand, as well as the most searched destinations in the country, and interesting international travel behaviour.


According to recent TripAdvisor inbound travel data for Thailand, China continues to lead the way with the highest percentage increase in search traffic1, with a year-on-year increase of 30%, outpacing the overall international average of 4%. India and Indonesia followed in second and third place, with year-on-year search increases of 16% and 12% respectively.

When examining the total inbound search traffic for Thailand, China tops the list followed by the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Russia. According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), China and Russia were also two of the largest contributors to Thailand’s inbound tourism and inbound expenditure2 in the first half of 2017.

Top five inbound countries by overall search traffic3:

1 China
2 United States
3 United Kingdom
4 Australia
5 Russia

“Thailand has something for every traveller with its tropical beaches, heritage towns, delicious food, and an ever cosmopolitan capital city,” said Grant Colquhoun, TripAdvisor spokesperson. “The inbound travel data that is available on TripAdvisor provides local hospitality businesses and service providers with insights on travel trends and consumer behaviours to help them more effectively capture and cater to a global audience of high intent travellers.”

He added, “We are also encouraged to see that accommodations in Thailand are becoming more engaged on TripAdvisor with 53% of them responding to travel reviews within the last month4.”

Leading Thai hospitality management company Onyx Hospitality is utilising these insights to drive business strategies.

“International travellers make up a significant percentage of our business and we constantly adapt to evolving behaviours and expectations that they have when they visit our hotels in Thailand,” said Chutima Fuangkham, Onyx Hospitality Group spokesperson. “Using TripAdvisor has allowed us to better understand the sentiments and behaviours of these travellers across all stages of their trips – from trip planning, duration and the behaviour they have in-destination – helping us to better shape our business strategy and make our offerings more relevant to our guests.”

Beach and island getaways ever popular with international travellers
Thailand’s tropical islands continue to pique the interest of international travellers, with the resort town of Krabi seeing the highest year-on-year increase in searches, at 41%, followed by Kathu and Nai Yang in Phuket, at 37% and 31% respectively. Cultural Chiang Mai and border city Hat Yai are tied at fourth with a 10% increase in searches. This is the first time that Krabi has appeared in the top destinations list registering the highest year-on-year search increase.

Top five Thai destinations with the biggest increase in international traveller interest5:
(Showing year-on-year growth)

1 Krabi 41%
2 Kathu 37%
3 Nai Yang 31%
4 Chiang Mai 10%
4 Hat Yai 10%

*Exact percentages rounded to zero decimal points

Russian travellers take time to plan and spend more nights in Thailand
When it comes to trip planning and duration, TripAdvisor data showed that on average, international travellers visiting Thailand start planning their trip 65 days in advance6, and stay for almost five nights.

Out of the top five inbound markets by overall search traffic, Russian travellers take around 60 days to plan a trip but stay the longest with approximately 11 nights per stay. Chinese travellers on the other hand, have a planning lead-time of approximately 51 days and stay for nearly four nights. Travellers from United States, United Kingdom and Australia stay for an average of six nights and take the longest to plan, with lead-times of 108, 102 and 82 days respectively.

Continued interest from Chinese travellers in second tier cities
Amongst Chinese travellers searching for Thailand, there was a continued interest from those in the second-tier cities of Hangzhou, Dalian and Qingdao. The surge in interest comes as the China Tourism Academy (CTA) shared that second and third-tier cities in China are fast catching up as key outbound tourism markets7, due to increasing disposable income and improved flight connectivity to Southeast Asia.

Top five Chinese cities with biggest increase in traveller interest to Thailand8:
(Showing year-on-year growth)

1 Beijing 102%
2 Hangzhou 91%
3 Dalian 81%
4 Qingdao 65%
5 Shanghai 61%

*Exact percentages rounded to zero decimal points


1 Based on year-over-year increase in unique sessions for Thailand on TripAdvisor, comparing July 2016 – June 2017 vs July 2015 – June 2016 with a min. session of 1,000,000
2 The number of visitors to Thailand from January – June 2017 reached 17 million and created income of THB876 billion, in which the China market was the top generator followed by Russia and Malaysia
3 Based on total number of searches (unique sessions) for Thailand on TripAdvisor (excluding Thailand), July 2016 – June 2017
4 Based on TripAdvisor data as of 1 Aug 2017
5 Based on year-over-year increase in unique sessions from international travellers on TripAdvisor, comparing July 2016 – June 2017 vs July 2015 – June 2016
6 Based on TripAdvisor data of user markets looking into Thailand from 2015 to June 2017
7 Source: China Tourism Academy (CTA)
8 Top five Chinese cities based on year-over-year increase in unique sessions for Thailand on TripAdvisor, comparing July 2016 – June 2017 vs July 2015 – June 2016 with a min. session of 50,000

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