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27 Oct 2020


Domestic travel market in the final stretch of 2020; Thais have travel plans but also worry over COVID-19, the economy and politics (Current Issue No.3152)


After the government managed to successfully contain the spread of COVID-19 and issued stimulus packages like the 'We Travel Together' campaign to boost domestic tourism, the number of Thai tourists traveling domestically markedly increased. Based on data provided by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the number of domestic travelers from July to September 2020 averaged at 24.3 million person-trips, which is a significant increase from 3.9 million person-trips from April to June 2020. The data is in agreement with the survey conducted by KResearch which reflects the trend from July to September 2020: 60 percent of the sample group went on either an overnight trip or a day trip, while the remaining 40 percent has yet to travel.

To keep the domestic travel market on a path of a continuous recovery over the last three months of this year, the government has gradually begun to roll out stimulus packages to encourage more Thais to take domestic trips, including the addition of a special 'long holiday' on November 19 and 20, 2020, and moving the substitute holiday from December 7 to December 11, 2020. This change was made to accommodate most Thais who prefer to travel on weekends rather than weekdays. Other stimulus efforts include an extension and amendment of the conditions for the 'We Travel Together' campaign, along with other measures aiming to boost spending. However, the ambience for tourism in 2020 may differ from that of previous years as economic conditions continue to be unfavorable for certain tourist groups, while other risks linger on, including the COVID-19 crisis and political unrest.

 For this reason, KResearch conducted a survey to evaluate the expected travel behavior of Thais during the final quarter of 2020. Results show that during the last three months of this year, 77.3 percent of the sample group plans to go on a trip. While this is a slight increase from 2019, the tourism industry remains highly volatile. The majority of the sample group stated that any potential reemergence of domestic COVID-19 cases could cause them to change their travel plans over the remainder of this year – not to mention the political issues that still need to be monitored. Regarding travel expenses, most of those surveyed are still concerned about the state of the economy, resulting in an average decline in the frequency of domestic trips. In addition, travel budgets per trip have dropped by approximately 5.5 percent compared to the survey conducted during the same period of last year.

            KResearch is of the view that, provided that there is no second wave of domestic COVID-19 cases and the tourism stimulus packages prove to be effective, and that the political protests remain peaceful and relatively manageable – the total value of domestic tourist expenditures over the last three months of 2020 should be at around THB 180 billion, or an estimated contraction of 37.1 percent YoY – which is an improvement from the severe contraction experienced earlier. Owing to COVID-19, domestic spending by Thai tourists is projected to be valued at THB 506 billion for full-year 2020, a 53.3 percent contraction from 2019.​