Airbnb reports 67 percent increase in Thailand bookings

Airbnb, the United States-based online vacation accommodation rental service, reported last week that bookings by guests visiting Thailand last year rose 67 percent with 1.15 million arrivals and the company expects further growth in Thailand business, as Thai tourists are also increasingly using the service.

“Thailand’s popularity with domestic and international travelers shows no signs of slowing down, as people worldwide continue to seek out unique and authentic experiences in the country,’’ Airbnb said in a press release.

Thailand is a global tourism success story. Once regarded as a distant backwater, in 2017 the Kingdom set a new record with over 35 million visitors. Tourism accounts for roughly 10 percent of the economy and provides millions of jobs directly and indirectly. Airbnb is now becoming a contributor to Thailand’s success as a destination.

Airbnb is a broker that owns no properties, but earns commissions on bookings. It claims to have over 200 million members and over 3 million listings for lodgings in 65,000 cities in 191 countries. Founded in 2008, its headquarters is in San Francisco. Privately held, it has not released earnings or profit information.

The company said that Thailand’s leading source countries for inbound international guests in 2017 were China, the U.S., Singapore, Malaysia and Britain. These guests were increasingly choosing accommodations in neighborhoods in Bangkok and Chiang Mai that are not necessarily known as tourist areas, but more as residential districts.

That trend is good for the mini-economies of those areas, and is building a new appreciation for areas that had previously been overlooked, Airbnb said. Among the neighborhoods that been drawing guests are Bangkok’s Sukhumvit, Sathon, Din Daeng, Huai Khwang, Klong Toey and Thonburi areas.

“Increasingly, people are shying away from the usual cookie-cutter tours where they see the same things as everyone else. Instead, curious travellers are seeking something authentic, different and unique – handcrafted experiences they won’t find anywhere else, that help them really understand the character of a new city,” the company said.

Thais are also availing themselves of Airbnb and its services when they travel. During the past year, Thai travelers have used the service to book accommodations in over 100 countries including unlikely destinations such as Bolivia and Zimbabwe.

But the leading cities for Thais using Airbnb last year were Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, Kyoto, Singapore, London, Fukuoka, Paris, Sapporo, Rome, Milan and Los Angeles.

Thais were also using the service to book domestically. The most frequented destinations were Pattaya, Bangkok, Hua Hin and Chiang Mai. But bookings to Khon Kaen, Chon Buri and Hat Yai experienced year-on-year growth of 139 percent, 150 percent and 204 percent, respectively.