As travel continues to recover post-pandemic, nights booked in Thailand on Airbnb more than doubled last year from 2020, according to data compiled by the accommodation-sharing platform operator.
International travel is leading the way, with Bangkok emerging a top destination of choice for global travellers. The capital was the No.1 trending destination globally for Airbnb guests in the third quarter last year, and ranks fifth on Airbnb's list of top trending global travel spots in 2023.
Thai government and industry bodies have forecast that between 20-25 million travellers will visit the country this year, a strong indication of recovery after 11 million international visitors last year.
Bangkok was the most-booked Thai destination on Airbnb in 2022, followed closely by Phuket, Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui. Driving this strong momentum are travellers from the US, which ranked as the top country of origin for Airbnb guests visiting Thailand in 2022.
Other top countries and regions of origin were the UK, Europe and Asia-Pacific markets including South Korea, Australia and China.
The resurgence in outbound travel from China has been instrumental to the rebound in Thailand and continues to be a bright spot for the country this year. Within 24 hours of Beijing announcing on Dec 26, 2022 that it would lift inbound quarantine requirements, Thailand ranked as the most searched outbound destination among guests from China on Airbnb.
As more people travel to reconnect with loved ones, group travel in Thailand on Airbnb surged more than 300% year-on-year in 2022. This comes as family travel on the platform increased 60% in 2022 compared with pre-pandemic levels, with more families booking Airbnb stays for their value and space.
Nearly 90% of Airbnb stays have kitchens, one-quarter have three bedrooms or more, and more than a million have cribs for small children.
Airbnb is also attracting guests who stay for longer, as more global travellers enjoy greater flexibility in work and travel. In 2022, the average length of stay by people booking on the platform in Thailand was five nights, while long-term stays of more than 28 days more than tripled year-over-year.
As international travel rebounds post-pandemic, Airbnb continues to work closely with the Tourism Authority of Thailand to drive more long-term stays. The two parties launched a "Live and Work Anywhere" digital guide in January to support the growth of digital nomads.
THAIS RIDE K-WAVE
While domestic travel remains popular, Thais' appetite for overseas travel has returned with more people looking to explore popular destinations.
The top five overseas destinations booked by Thai travellers on Airbnb last year were South Korea, the US, the UK, France and Japan. Their most booked cities were Seoul, London, Paris, Melbourne and New York.
Closer to home, after years of muted celebrations because of the pandemic, Songkran travel is back in full swing with Airbnb guest searches for the festive period showing a 310% year-on-year increase.
Bangkok is the most-searched destination among international guests for this period, followed by Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Krabi and Phuket, while Thai travellers are looking to resort destinations, with Pattaya ranking top in searches.
Notably, Australia ranks the top country of origin for international guests this Thai New Year, followed by the US, UK, Germany and France. Also noteworthy was more than 20% of China guest searches for Thailand stays for spring travel this year were for the Songkran period.
"With Songkran just around the corner, we are delighted to see the significant resurgence in international travel to Thailand on Airbnb," said Amanpreet Bajaj, Airbnb's general manager for Southeast Asia, India, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
"The growing excitement among global travellers to experience the country's scenic natural landscapes, rich cultural heritage, delicious local cuisine and world-class Thai hospitality is extremely encouraging and signals a strong tourism recovery.
"In line with our efforts to promote inclusive and responsible tourism in the country, we remain committed to working closely with the government and relevant stakeholders to accelerate the travel recovery and future-proof the tourism industry in Thailand."