Security the fifth S in Thailand tourism survey
Despite the recent bad press, tourists in general still believe that Thailand is a vibrant destination with friendly people, according to “Is Thailand Still Amazing?” a study released recently by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
Friday 3 August 2012, 04:31PM
However, the survey showed that, after sun, sea, sand and sex, a fifth S, security, is becoming a matter for concern. The study showed tourists viewed Thailand’s nightlife as the most dangerous, followed by land transport.
Thailand’s image as the Land of Smiles is not so shiningly clear as in the past due to the power of the internet, channelling news to the world faster.
News of security failures, crime and natural disasters reaches potential visitors much faster and this in turn sways travel decisions in the short term.
The survey reflects feedback from 14 major markets: Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the United States, the UAE, Australia, China, Korea, India, Russia, Germany, Sweden and Italy.
The survey, which took around eight months to compile, was based on 3,640 interviews (around 250 from each country), involving a mix of people who had visited Thailand in the past and those who had never visited the country.
The core finding showed that Thailand was still perceived primarily as a “3S” destination – sea, sand and sun – with positive, good hospitality attributes. There was very little difference between the opinions of the two groups.
The TAT believes this is due mainly to social media that provides information so that even non-visitors believe they have a valid perception.
Each market displayed different shades of meaning. In Asian markets it is perceived as a place for relaxation and a sense of pampering at beach destinations, while the European market seeks pristine beaches and a beautiful natural environment.
Medical tourism and spa products and services were top of the list representing attractiveness, especially in Asia Pacific markets, while “soft” adventure tourism was top in European markets.
The study found that Thailand was weak in family tourism products, such as theme parks and recreational options designed for children. The same applied to the romantic segment such as honeymoons.
There was the perception that Thailand cannot deliver a sense of privacy and the national taboo against overt affection in public places was viewed as a drawback.
The study suggested the travel industry should be wary of raising prices too. Tourists ranked low accommodation prices and cost of living in Thailand as the most valuable asset that drew them to the country.
In term of Thainess, tourists were impressed by the 24-hour lifestyle of Thai people, followed by the Thai smile, good hospitality and lifestyle.
The result of the research is in Thai language and can be downloaded here. http://etatjournal.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/thailand-destination-image.pdf.