Tourists at Khao Lak in Takua Pa district, Phangnga. According to Expedia, 95% of Thais have been on a beach holiday. (Photo by Karnjana Ayuwatanachai)
Cleanliness and safety are the most important factors for Thais when choosing a beach holiday spot, according to Expedia’s 2017 Flip Flop Report.
The report examined the differences in beach attitudes and behaviours across 17 countries, and included 15,000 respondents.
Of 852 respondents in Thailand, 95% said they have been on a beach holiday, and 73% have done so in the past year. Of those who have taken a beach holiday, 42% had travelled internationally.
For Thais, the most travelled-to destination for a beach holiday is Thailand, with seven in 10 (69%) taking a beach holiday domestically. After Thailand, Singapore (17%), Japan (16%), Hawaii (14%) and Australia (12%) are the most travelled to destinations for a beach holiday.
When it comes to international visitors, 12% have taken a holiday on a Thai beach. Close to 21% of South Koreans have taken a beach holiday in Thailand, 17% for Indians and 15% for Australians.
The bulk of Thais have foreign dream beach destinations. Topping the beach destination wish list is Waikiki, Hawaii with half (49%) of Thais wishing to travel there, followed by Seminyak, Bali (32%) and Amalfi, Italy (16%).
Tourists relax on a beach in Phuket. Expedia says 12% of global travellers have taken a holiday on a Thai beach. SOMCHAI POOMLARD
Time well spent on holiday
Thai travellers show strong preference for short travel times and distance to their beach holiday. On average, Thais are willing to sit on an aeroplane for an average time of under four hours and in a road vehicle for four-and-a half hours. Despite their relatively aversion to travel long distances, one in 10 Thais would drive (12%) or fly (10%) for more than nine hours to reach a beach destination.
On average, Thais spend close to five days a year on a beach holiday. International holidays are longer on average than domestic holidays (six days compared with four). Only 12% of Thais would travel for more than a week.
Making travel decisions
When deciding on a beach holiday destination, the most influential factors for Thais include safety (96%) and cleanliness (96%) of the beach, followed by great weather (92%) and the total cost (88%).
Adult-only resorts and activities are considered important aspects for two-thirds (66%) of Thais, making them the most likely to find this aspect important (with a global average of 53%). Thais are the second-most likely, after Indians (74%) to consider social media visibility an important aspect of a beach holiday (69% with a global average of 55%).
Interestingly, Thais are least interested in beach holiday destinations where there are plenty of singles, with two-thirds (68%) finding this the least important aspect.
The happy travellers
More than 97% of Thais were satisfied with their latest beach holiday, and 43% were very satisfied. The longer the holiday, the more likely they are to be satisfied. Some 65% of Thai holidaymakers who go away for more than three weeks are very satisfied compared with 62% of those who go away for more than two weeks, and 46% for those who go away for more than one week.
No matter who they travel with, more than 95% of Thais are generally satisfied with their holiday. However, travelling families are more likely to be very satisfied (45%) than travelling couples are (40%).
Thai holidaymakers like to indulge themselves, but do so wisely. They spent an average of US$1,400 (45,529 baht) on their last beach holiday, less than the global average of $2,000. Older Thais spend the most on beach holidays (close the $2000), compared with Thais aged 18-33 ($1,400) and Thais aged 34-52 ($1,100).
Travelling couples spend the most on beach holidays overall (close to $2000), followed by travelling families ($1,500). Travelling with friends seems to be the cheapest overall for a beach holiday (close to $950).
Annoyances and etiquette
Cultural differences inarguably affect beach attitudes and travel etiquette. Studies showed that Thai beachgoers feel similar to holidaymakers from other countries when it comes to beach annoyances, nightmares and etiquette.
A burkini for women is considered the most acceptable beach attire among Thais (88%), more so than any other common beach attire. However, a thong-style swimsuit for women is also widely accepted (83%), making it the second most accepted attire, followed by a thong-style swimsuit for men (77%).
The inevitable anxiety
When thinking about taking a beach holiday, Thais are most likely to feel anxious about the risk of theft (79%), followed by lost property (74%), drowning or strong rip currents (73%) and being stung by a jellyfish or stingray (73%).
Nearly all Thai parents have at least one anxiety regarding their children while on a beach holiday. Most common concerns about children are falling sick (68%), followed by drowning or drifting into deep water (67%), and being stung by jellyfish (63%). Globally, Thai parents are the most likely to get anxious about their children falling sick (with a global average of 56%).
Beach holiday preparation
Thai holidaymakers would start to get themselves “beach ready” an average of 36 days before leaving for their holiday, in line with the global average of close to 1.5 months.
On average, Thai holidaymakers would spend more than nine hours and are willing to spend more than $80 getting themselves “beach ready”. Close to half of Thai holidaymakers would pack the day before they leave, but 14% of Thai travellers spend more time packing than actually being on holiday.
The over-packing phenomenon is a reality for four in five (83%) of Thai holidaymakers, with a large proportion going for a more-than-needed number of items: 62% would willingly lug along jumbo packs of sunscreen, 61% would pack multiple pairs of sunglasses, and 33% take multiple pairs of swimming costumes.
Sun safety appears paramount when packing, with nine in 10 (89%) Thai holidaymakers packing at least one item that protects them from the sun.
Typical beach behaviour
Beach activities Thais are most likely to take part in when on a beach is walking (73% always or frequently do it), maintaining its top position on the list of beach activities since 2016. Taking selfies is the second most common activity for Thais.
This makes Thais the most likely to take selfies at the beach globally (56% compared with the global average of 33%). Listening to music (50%) and swimming (48%) are the third and fourth most common activities, respectively, followed by posting photos on social media (48%).
Yoga, tai chi, meditation (11%), skinny-dipping (12%), and sunbathing (15%) are the least participated-in activities among Thais on beach holidays.
Flirting and romance
The most common romantic activity Thais have done at the beach is to go for a sunset beach walk (65%) and more than a quarter (28%) have been chatted up by a stranger. Thais are generally not very engaged in other romantic activities on the beach with only 14% of Thais have been asked out on a date, and 13% have asked someone out on a date.
Thais think the most attractive beachgoers are those from Hawaii (59%), followed by Australia (37%), Brazil (17%), California (16%) and France (12%).
“The study cements that Thai-based holidaymakers fully understand what their country has to offer when it comes to a beach holidays.
Domestically, the Thai tourism industry is seeing positive growth with popular destinations like the Phra Nang Beach, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Chang, Koh Lipe, Phuket, Koh Samui, Hua Hin, Koh Tao beaches continuing to attract local and foreign travellers year after year,” said Simon Fiquet, Expedia’s general manager for Southeast Asia and India.