Outbound tourism from Thailand to Norway is booming. Thai tourists typically visit the western fjords in addition to Oslo and Bergen and also North Cape where H.M. King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) engraved his monogram on a boulder in 1907. King Chulalongkorn’s visit to Norway in 1907 has been described in a series of letters to his daughter Princess Nibha Nobhadol and is included in the curriculum for students in Thailand.
Outbound tourism from Thailand has increased to six million due to continuous competitive promotion campaigns from destination marketing companies, tour companies, airlines, hotels, banks and credit card issuers.
Peak season for Thai tourists to Norway is April to July, accounting for 40-45% of outbound tourism to Northern Europe. September to October is another emerging period where tourists can experience the Scandinavian autumn, representing about 15% of the outbound volume to the region. Low season to Scandinavia, e.g. the winter months from November to March are starting to become popular among Thai tourists due to active marketing of winter experiences including Aurora hunting.
Thai tourists are avid shoppers. Global Blue Norway accounts for roughly 95% of all tourism VAT refunds in Norway. In 2016, Thailand is ranked 5 (after China, USA, UK and Germany) of all countries worldwide in VAT refunds through Global Blue Norway, up from 7th place. 61% of transactions are taking place in Oslo and these generate 86% of the total value. Thai shoppers typically go for expensive items like brand name watches and handbags.
A move in the Thai demographic structure towards an ageing society will benefit the inbound tourism industry in Scandinavia as travellers in this category have time and money for travelling. Convenience in travelling, quality of tours, good service and well-developed infrastructure are important factors for this group.
Individual travel have become more popular among Thai tourists. 80% of Thais travelling abroad were individual travellers with a preference for short-haul destination (within Asia). Japan has recently opened up for visa free travel for Thai citizens, and Japan is now the top selling destination. Only 10% of outbound travellers went to Europe in 2017, but things are changing. Destinations in Northern Europe are becoming more popular, especially during the winter season. The young generation tend to find more unique and adventurous places to visit. They are looking beyond the major tourist areas to less known places, being more interested in local lifestyle. Tourists in middle to upper classes are the highest spenders when travelling abroad.
Bleisure travel, a combination between “business” and “leisure” is an increasingly popular way to travel. The inclusion of business meetings in motivational travel programmes aboard are expected to increase continuously. Unique and relaxing tour programmes for shorter stays are favoured among bleisure travellers.
Over 31 million Thais between 6 and 60 use internet to access social media, blogs/virtual communities and video sharing websites in order to search for travel information and share travel experiences through a variety of online channels. Social media plays an important role in tourism, especially while search for information in order to make decision about destinations. Facebook and other social media, travel blogs, word of mouth, travel channels, and travel magazines are the main inspirations for Thai travellers.
Like other Asia travellers, Thai love photo opportunities and selfies. They tend not to be too adventurous but rather see nature from comfortable surroundings, much like Japanese travellers. Food-wise, Thais prefer Asian food, especially for breakfast. Hotels catering to Asian tourists are well advised to put some Asian dishes on their menus.
Every year, in January, Visit Norway organises a B2B workshop in Bangkok, which we organise. This is a unique opportunity to meet the local travel industry and to introduce new and exiting products for the coming season to the Thai market. The 2019 workshop will take place on 25 January 2019.