Half a million Indian visitors arrived in Thailand in 2007

India is one of Thailand's most rapidly growing markets and the biggest source-market for visitors from South Asia.

In 2007, Indian visitor arrivals totalled 506,237, up 17.8% over 2006, crossing the half-million mark for the first time. Within these figures, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is noticing major increases in family travellers, first-time visitors, as well as FIT travellers.

In 2000, Indian visitors totalled 202,868, up about 24% over 1999. This growing trend continued in 2005 when visitors totalled 352,766, an increase of 17.52% over 2004.

Various contributing factors include 1) the growing of aviation access between India and Thailand, 2) Indian visitors know Thailand as a hospitable, peaceful country and a year-round tourism destination with a high quality of value-for-money products and services.

Indian citizens also get a visa on arrival at Thailand's international gateway checkpoints, and the facility has been significantly improved to expedite the processing time.

Many Indians are also venturing on their first trip abroad, and find Thailand the best place to start their international travels because it fits in well with their budget and time availability.

In 2007, first-time visitors from India were up 33.93% to 250,688 and repeat visitors were up slightly by 5.36% to 255,549.

In terms of market segments, male visitors maintained a bigger market share of about 76.53% (387,424). Visitors travelling independently (FITs) were up about 12.56% over 2006 and also comprised a much bigger market share of 60% of the total number of Indian visitors.

Indian holidaymakers showed growth of 19.34% to 377,399, business travellers grew by 12.41% or 64,609 while convention delegates declined slightly by 0.4% to 132,891.

In terms of age groups, Indian visitors aged between 25-34 and 35-44 years old captured the largest market share while those aged between 55-64 showed very strong growth (22.91%) when compared to the same period of 2006.

Thailand attracted both upper-income and blue-collar visitors while the numbers of visitors who identified themselves as housewives and students showed good growth of 26.10% (45,593) and 32.36% (55,597), respectively.

In 2007, Indian visitors recorded an average length of stay of 6.91days, with average daily expenditure of US$136.17 per person and generated US$476.33 million for tourism revenue.

For 2008, TAT has set a target of 503,000 visitors from India, or 9.1% up over 2007, generating a projected tourism revenue of 16,400 million Baht.

The most popular tourist destinations for Indian visitors continue to be beach resorts. Intra-regional tourism has begun to show clearer trends, particularly travel to the Greater Mekong Sub-region, which has begun to receive greater interest.

A large number of Indian visitors are entering Thailand overland via Malaysia, a new tourism trend that will be worth keeping an eye on in the future.