By Imtiaz Muqbil,
Germany was once Thailand’s top European country in terms of arrivals. It has now fallen to third place after Russia and the UK. This slippage is mainly due to local economic situation in Europe, changes in the market and social conditions, and competitive pressure from other destinations, especially within Europe. It is also due to the fact that arrivals from other European countries are rising more rapidly.
Germany is no longer on the list of top ten source markets overall. In 2012, it became the 12th source-market with a share of 2.97% or 663,611 visitors. From January – March 2013, arrivals from Germany totalled 250,900, up 14.04% over the same period of 2012. For the entire year 2013, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is expecting 699,670 visitors from Germany, generating a projected 47.36 billion baht in tourism revenue.
In spite of the fall in market share, the flow of visitors from Germany remains reasonably steady. A major reason is that Thailand remains good value for money, affordable to German consumers with a wide cross-section of budgets. Moreover, Thailand continues to be a wonderful diverse tourism destination with great beaches, food, spas, hotels, nature, and sports. Thailand also has an excellent reputation for product delivery including an extensive range of natural and cultural heritage attractions. A combination of affordability and diversity is the key to success.
For many decades until the 1990s, Germany was the biggest European market for Thailand. After 2000, it was overtaken by the UK.
Visitor Arrivals from Germany 2006-2013
Source: Immigration Bureau, Police Department.
In 2006, Thailand welcomed 507,942 visitors from Germany, up +16.35% over 2005. One trend that began to emerge was the growth of German visitors attending conventions and exhibitions in Thailand as a result of the joint ventures between Thai and German exhibition companies. This led to an increase in both the number of visitors and exhibitors at the numerous Thai trade shows.
In 2007, Thailand received 537,200 visitors from Germany, up 5.76% over 2006. That year saw a noticeably strong growth in the number of German first-time travellers, convention delegates, students and especially retired people.
Tourism Receipts from German visitors 2008-2012
Source: Ministry of Tourism and Sports
2008: Exchange rate 1 US$ = 31.31 Baht
2009: Exchange rate 1 US$ = 34.29 Baht
2010: Exchange rate 1 US$ = 31.69 Baht
2011: Exchange rate 1 US$ = 30.49 Baht
2012: Exchange rate 1 US$ = 31.08 Baht
In 2008, the impact of the global financial crisis began to be felt and German visitors arrivals totalled 531,241, declining by 1.11%. It was also because of a domestic political crisis in Thailand which saw the closure of Bangkok’s main gateway, Suvarnabhumi airport, for 10 days.
By 2011, Germany had been overtaken by the growth in Russian arrivals and fallen to third place in the list of European source-markets, with 603,979 visitors.
Tourism Revenue from German visitors
In 2012, visitors from Germany stayed an average of 18.03 days, while their average daily expenditure was 3,617 baht (US$116.40) per person. This generated about 43.28 billion baht (US$1,392 million) tourism exchange revenue to the Thai economy.
Source: -Department of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism and Sports
-Marketing Database Group, Tourism Authority of Thailand
The profile of German travellers to Thailand in 2012 shows some interesting characteristics:
• 37% of German visitors were female, +9.76% to 249,615 while male visitors were up by 9.94% to 413,996.
• 67% of German arrivals were repeat visitors, +7.80% to 450,182, while first-time travellers were up by 14.52% to 213,429.
• 92.10% were FIT, +9.63% to 611,913, while visitors travelling by group tour were up by 12.76% to 52,418.
• By age, visitors from Germany were mainly between 25-34 and 35-44, up by 6.49% and 5.03% respectively. Other fast-growing segments were young travellers aged under 25 (up by 25.58%) while senior citizens aged over 55 were up by 14.33%.
• By purpose of visit, 90% were holiday visitors, +123.42% to 603,572.
• There has been significant decline in the number of German convention and conference delegates, due to economic conditions at home, and the emergence of competitive events in other parts of Asia, especially China and Indonesia.
Source: Air-Sea Guide, August 2013
As of August 2013, there were 25 direct flights scheduled weekly operated by Thai Airways International and Lufthansa from the long-standing German hubs, Frankfurt and Munich. In addition, the Gulf airlines are generating significant traffic via connecting flights through Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi.
• TAT surveys show that Thailand’s sea, sand and sun are appealing to German visitors.
• Most popular destinations include Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi, Chiang Mai, Samui Island, Hua Hin, Pha Ngan Island, and Cha-am.
• The growth of the Internet has increased the popularity of direct bookings. The reservation model has also changed, from bookings that were once made at least six months in advance to barely within 5-6 weeks before travel presently. Visitors also seek special offers and deals.
• Germans are environmentally-conscious travellers. The more experienced travellers seek holidays with creative lifestyle ideas, innovative products, diversity, and different experiences.
• Health & wellness travel is a growing trend.