Airbnb bookings indicate Thai tourism bouncing back

Thais are taking to traveling again. Airbnb reported that domestic bookings in Thailand have begun picking up and were 13 percent higher in early June than one year ago as the lifting of Covid-19 lockdowns has opened the door for local travel.

“Tourism is a key driver of economic growth in Thailand and will play an important role in the overall recovery,” said Kum Hong Siew, Regional Director for Asia-Pacific at Airbnb.

For now, the tourists are nearly all Thais as the country has closed its borders to foreign visitors to prevent new Covid-19 infections. The government is considering allowing limited numbers of foreigners, mostly business travelers, to begin entering the Kingdom next month. A wider opening would gradually be enacted should the pandemic remain under control.

Countless Thais depend upon tourism, however, for their livelihoods. The sector’s recovery and revival would be essential to getting the economy going and restoring a sense of normalcy.

“We are already seeing early positive signs of domestic travel getting ready to make a comeback, driven by locals booking holidays that are closer to home,” said Kum Hong Siew. “This latest data reinforces our belief that travelers increasingly are looking for more local, authentic and affordable experiences.”

In 2019, Airbnb said it generated $1.28 billion in “direct economic impact” to Thailand, a 17 percent increase over the previous year.

Airbnb said that based on its data, the most popular domestic destinations during the last 30 days in Thailand include Bangkok, Hua Hin, Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Phetchaburi. Travel to non-urban destinations accounted for 45 percent of bookings.

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