Bangkok is Asia-Pacific’s top destination city
Bangkok ranks third in the Global Top 20 Destinations in terms of both numbers of international visitors and spending, according to the latest MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index.
Despite sluggish global economic growth, the number of people travelling abroad continues to increase, according to Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, MasterCard Worldwide’s global economic advisor.
Total visitor numbers is projected to increase 5.7% from 174.9 million to 184.9 million, while total cross-border spending will rise 10.6% from US$217.8 billion (6,752 billion baht) to $241 billion (7,471 billion baht).
London is the world’s most popular destination; the UK capital is expected to welcome 16.9 million travellers throughout this year. Paris came in second with 16 million visitors.
Bangkok is the third top destination for the second consecutive year. The total number of international visitors grew 6.5%, from 11.5 million in 2011 to 12.2 million this year so far.
The fourth city is Singapore with 11.8 million visitors, while the fifth is Istanbul with 11.6 million visitors.
For the world top 20 destination cities by visitor spending, London is again in pole position. Visitor spending grew 10.3% in 2011 to $21.1 billion (654 billion baht), followed by New York at $19.4 billion (601 billion baht) and Bangkok, which moved up by one rank, displacing Paris. MasterCard forecasts that tourist spending in Bangkok will rise 16.6% to $19.3 billion (598 billion baht).
In fourth place is Paris ($17.8 billion, or 552 billion baht), while one place lower is Singapore ($12.7 billion or 394 billion baht).
“Visitors tend to stay longer once they get there, and they spend more as a result,” said the researcher.
When segmented into regions, the research found the city that leads the Asia-Pacific region in terms of both total number of visitors and visitor spending is the Thai capital.
“Bangkok is again the number one destination city in Asia, a reflection of its strong and abiding appeal to tourists from the rest of the world,” he stated in the research.
The top five origin cities of tourists heading to Bangkok are Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul and Kuala Lumpur. For visitor spending in the city, the highest spender per visit is from Hong Kong ($2,401, or 74,431 baht) followed by those from Tokyo ($2,265, or 70,215 baht).
In comparison, visitors from Seoul, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur spend some $1,404 (43,524 baht), $1,039 (40,579 baht) and $773 (23,963 baht) per visit, respectively.
In addition, MasterCard found a rise in cashless payments with many international travellers opting to do electronic transactions rather than using cash.
“The trend is a response to an increasing demand for safe, simple and smart payments, and highlights the rising importance of cashless commerce for both business and leisure travel,” Hedrick-Wong said.
New bus routes in pipeline
The Transportation Ministry and Cambodia’s Ministry of Public Works and Transport recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to offer public buses from Bangkok to Phnom Penh and Bovet, the border town to Ho Chi Minh City. Under the agreement, the Transport Company in Thailand will provide the bus link from Aranyaprathet to Poipet in Cambodia, while a public bus operator in Cambodia will connect the service from Poipet to the last station at Bovet. The service is scheduled to be launched in August.
According to Transport Minister Jarupong Ruangsuwan, the co-ordination will facilitate not only travellers between Thailand and Cambodia, but also extend to visitors to and from Vietnam.
The ministry is also in discussions with its Cambodian counterpart to extend the railway service from Aranyaprathet to Poipet. Jarupong said the project may start next year.
– Nok Air is offering a special promotion at 1,339 baht net allowing passengers to book and pay for tickets at 7-Eleven convenient stores nationwide.
Seats, however, are limited and available for some routes excluding flights operated by Nok Mini, Tigerline Travel and the coordinated routes with Lomprayah, a high-speed ferry operator in the South. Tickets must also be purchased at least seven days before the departure date.
The campaign runs until June 30 for the travel period from Monday-Sept 30.
Visit www.nokair.com for more details.
– AirAsia has reduced its daily flights between Bangkok and Colombo, Sri Lanka to three days a week.
The airline started the service on March 1, but due to lower than expected demand it has adjusted the frequency to Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
“The change in the operating schedule of our flights between Bangkok and Colombo is a result of our route strategy realignment as we aim to add more flights to our popular routes with high demand,” said Thai AirAsia CEO Tassapon Bijleveld.
Passengers who have purchased tickets can call AirAsia at 02-515-9999 to move their flights, get a full refund or keep the credit for the future use at the airline’s website (www.airasia.com).