BANGKOK, 20 June 2014: Ministry of Tourism and Sports reported, earlier this week, 5,969,913 Thais travelled overseas in 2013 representing an increase of 4.34% over 5,721,485 trips in 2012.
Ministry data showed that Malaysia continued to be the most popular destination driven by short overland trips from southern provinces to destinations in northern Malaysia mainly for shopping and trade.
Trips to Malaysia in 2013 reached 2,044,002 growing 6.47% from 1,919,708 trips in 2012.
Laos was the second most popular destination for Thais with 963,462 trips decreasing 0.16% from 965,015, while Singapore was third with 426,582 trips improving 10.42% from 386,341. Travel to all the top destinations are driven by strong overland travel, except for Singapore where low-cost airlines are the driving force that keeps air travel competitive.
Singapore was the top destination for travel served only by air travel.
Apart from the three top destinations, all the other top choices were medium to long-haul destinations with higher airline costs. China was in fourth place with 329,527 trips rising 8.47% from 303,796 in 2012.
Hong Kong ranked fifth with 243,359 trips, up 8.35% from 224,606 trips.
The remaining top five destinations in 2013 were: Japan (219,002; +8.41%); South Korea (172,088; +5.99%); Taiwan (159,139; +8.86%); UK (141,701; -1.94%); and Australia (111,055; -5.31%).
In the regional category, East Asia was the top area visited (Southeast Asia is included) with 4,931,019 trips representing an increase of 5.48% from 4,674,719.
Europe ranked second with 522,229 trips and recorded an improvement of 0.41% from 520,080 trips. The Middle East followed in third place with 208,405 trips decreasing 1.02% from 210,553 trips.
Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) was fourth attracting 127,911 trips with a decline of 5.59% from 135,483 in 2012.
Meanwhile, South Asia was in fifth place with 118,149 trips increasing 2.00% from 115,832 trips. The Americas were sixth with 53,200 trips decreasing 5.72% from 56,428 trips, while Africa was seventh attracting 9,000 increasing 7.27% from 8,390 trips in 2012.
Of the overall 5,969,913 trips, package tours represented just 1,262,535 improving 20.12% from 1,051,044, while independently booked trips stood at 4,707,378 slightly increasing 0.79% from 4,670,441.
Thailand’s outbound travel firms are regaining some traction mainly from tour group bookings, but the dominant trend is towards FIT travel driven by the ease of internet bookings.
However, the bulk of travel agency business to long-haul destinations is multi-point group travel that is still firmly in the hands of the trade as internet booking sites are unable to process complicated itineraries with current software.
In the package tour market, Malaysia was the top destination with 378,122 trips increasing 21.91% from 310,155 trips in 2012. Laos was second with 135,351 trips gaining 16.32% from 116,356 trips. China ranked third with 113,797 trips, an increase of 13.13% from 100,590 trips.
Japan followed in fourth place with 88,927 trips growing 49.63% from 59,432, while South Korea was in fifth attracting 64,268 trips increasing 18.37% from 54,292.
Meanwhile, in the non-package tour segment, Malaysia gained 1,665,880 trips a slight increase of 3.50% from 1,609,553 in 2012.
Other popular destinations for independent travel were: Laos (828,111; -2.42%); Singapore (363,648; +10.11%); China (215,730; +6.16%); Hong Kong (206,497; +1.70%); and Taiwan (137,164; +5.02%).
In 2013, the estimated outbound spend was Bt146,410.70 million, an increase of 6.20% from Bt137,861.37 million in 2012.
Where Thais travelled 2013