Now that their borders have reopened and they seem to have moved on from the darker days of the pandemic, Thailand is once again smashing tourism records and strengthening links with North America. In fact, new research has confirmed it is the go-to destination for U.S. citizens in Southeast Asia – but what’s behind this new wave of popularity?
For most of 2020 and 2022, Southeast Asia (which we’ll shorten to SEA) remained virtually sealed off for tourism as local governments cracked down hard on Covid, banning most, if not all, foreign arrivals, and imposing controversial measures such as nightly curfews and lockdowns. Thailand was no exception.
Certainly, we did not expect Thailand to bounce back as strongly or this quickly, yet here we are:
A Budget-Friendly Paradisaical Escape
As verified in new research conducted by BBC News, Thailand is the number one pick for both Americans (including Canadians) and Europeans when planning a trip to Southeast Asia. As a matter of fact, more than half of all respondents cited Thailand as their preferred destination over Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other competitors.
To be more precise, 57.4% of those surveyed stated they would more likely visit Thailand than any other country in SEA. Why, then, is Thailand so trendy right now? In other words, why are thousands of Americans flying to the other side of the world, and facing long layovers in foreign airports, when there are other easier-to-reach sunny spots closer to home?
We have two possible answers: first, there is budget, and second, Thailand’s stunning nature and the fact that it is simply the perfect destination for culture-driven explorers. We will begin with budget, a pressing concern for many U.S. citizens going abroad amid the ongoing economic upheaval and the soaring costs of travel fueled by inflation.
Thailand Is Much Cheaper Than Other Sunny Spots In The Western Hemisphere
Luxury travel is on the rise worldwide, as tourism boards around the globe begin focusing more on big spenders and long-term vacationers in hopes of cashing in from their willingness to pay more, no matter how much, for high-quality services. This includes semi-private jets, five-star, all-inclusive resorts, and other unique experiences.
Not all travelers are keen on the splurging trend, though: many of them are actively seeking cheaper alternatives to the overpriced beaches of Mexico and Europe, even if that means longer, more complicated journeys and places where they can still indulge in some luxury, but at a much lower cost. As it turns out, Thailand is very affordable to visit.
It may not be as cheap as its neighbors, especially Vietnam, but it still allows Western visitors to treat themselves without breaking the bank, be it ordering a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant at a much lower price than back at home, or spending a weekend in a guesthouse at a secluded beach without double-checking their funds.
In general, Thailand is 65% less expensive than the U.S.: when staying a whole month, guests can expect to pay an average of USD $742, as opposed to USD $2,112. Yes, the only direct flights from North America leave from Vancouver, in Canada, and no, it is certainly not cheap to get there, but once you do, you’ll find out your hard-earned dollars stretch the furthest.
A Vast Cultural Wealth
Then, there is the question of tourist offer. Thailand’s natural wonders and millennia-old culture precede it: from spotless beaches made famous by Hollywood classics to intricately-built, historical Buddhist temples to open-air markets where mouth-watering street food can be sampled, it has enough points of interest to keep visitors busy for weeks on end.
One of Thailand’s strongest assets is nature, at least when it comes to staying on top of travel trends. Next year, nearly 60% of travelers will be looking to completely disconnect from their phones and explore the great outdoors when vacationing abroad, and Southeast Asia’s tropical forests and crystal clear coastline is surely a good starting point.
Now more than ever, vacationers are also favoring deeper cultural immersions, and staying safe behind the walls of their gated villas or resorts is no longer an enticing thought for some. Thailand is ready to accommodate their needs, offering a whole range of off-path activities that will help Americans understand the Thai way of life a bit better.
As stated by John Williams, Vice President of the Advertising Sales department (BBC News), ‘travel has been in a state of flux since the pandemic, and we are seeing a wonderful comeback throughout South East Asia currently for travelers and the travel industry as a whole‘. Their own results corroborate our earlier findings:
The research asserted that travelers’ priorities moving forward are cultural and sustainable travel. 91% of Americans and Europeans crave ‘culture and heritage’, and 72% are environmentally-conscious. Lucky for them, Thailand is fully open for tourism, with no vaccination, testing, or quarantine restrictions in place.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com