Merit-making trips – pilgrimages – have seen a steady increase in popularity over the years, and when such travel takes place during the Buddhist Lent, it can substantially increase domestic travel during this period of the mid-year rainy months, being a low-season for long-haul tourists, especially for Europeans to Thailand. During this period, travel-rated businesses here seek out Thai tourists to offset the shortfall in international arrivals. They normally launch sales promotions to capture more Thai customers, including general and niche tourists, with a focus on public and private sector MICE travelers.
KResearch conducted a survey, July 10-16, 2013, using a sampling group of 416 persons on the behavior of Bangkok residents toward Buddhist Lent. In that survey, 96.4 percent of the respondents felt that the Buddhist Lent continues to hold relevance because it helps preserve one of our most important religious traditions. Some 69.2 percent of the respondents also said that they would participate in various Lent activities. A majority said that they would visit temples in Bangkok, whereas the rest mentioned going to temples in provinces not far from Bangkok. Over 70 percent of the respondents stated that they would take such pilgrimages with their families, mostly opting to drive to those religious sites.
It is expected that the Buddhist Lent will be celebrated on a large scale across the country given the growing numbers of devout Buddhists who are responding to their spiritual anchor. This, along with a favorable travel environment, should help increase domestic travel during 3Q13.
Given this, KResearch expects Thais will make 30.2 million domestic trips in 3Q13, up 6.0 percent YoY. Their spending should reach some THB120 billion, up 8.1% YoY. Thai domestic excursions continue to grow satisfactorily. In 1H13, domestic travel grew by about 9.6 percent, in stark contrast to 1H12 when domestic travel was still inhibited by the 2011 flooding.
Of that THB120 billion in spending, 23 percent, equivalent to THB27.5 billion, will likely go to accommodation, while 22 percent – THB26.5 billion – would possibly go to local product purchases, along with 18 percent – THB21.5 billion – to F&B, and 15 percent – THB36 billion – on transport and entertainment. Over 2013, KResearch expects that the number of Thai tourists traveling domestically will increase perhaps 6.1 percent YoY as more Thais travel to the Northern and Northeastern regions to enjoy cooler weather.