Despite political instability and overcrowding, Bangkok remains as one of the world’s leading tourist destinations. The city has largely benefited from Asia Pacific’s rising affluence and increased air connectivity. Given the government’s commitments towards improving infrastructure, appealing to new source markets and transforming the city into a medical and wellness hub, Bangkok is poised to become a key travel destination both regionally and globally.
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Asia Pacific’s rising income levels and the expansion of regional air travel routes, have been the key driving forces behind Bangkok’s growing inbound tourism. Asian middle-class millennials often visit the city for its unique culture, cuisine, shopping, wellness and spas. China remains as Bangkok’s key source market, with inbound arrivals from China, South Korea and Japan experiencing strong growth.
In efforts to boost international tourism, the government has temporarily waived the visa-on-arrival fee for visitors arriving from 21 countries, including China and India. The new train lines are also expected to help ease traffic congestion in the city. Due to overcapacity, both of Bangkok’s airports are currently undergoing expansion to accommodate more domestic and international arrivals.
With more Free Independent Travellers, tourists are seeking to “experience more” and have a preference for mid-market hotels and short-term rentals (eg. Airbnb) over luxury hotels. These travellers are less interested in the full service offering of luxury hotels and would rather spend more experiencing local cuisine and culture.
Increased air connectivity within the region will continue to drive inbound tourist arrivals. For instance, the new flight routes between Bangkok and China’s second tier cities has led to increased arrivals in 2018.
With the opening of new luxury retail mall, Iconsiam, in late 2018, the city is well positioned to attract high-spending Chinese tourists. Medical tourism is also expected to grow given its quality medical facilities, well-trained professionals and affordability.