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Thailand’s Tourism Renaissance: Embracing the Experience Economy

Recently, I was scrolling through my social media feed and noticed a large bunch of influencers jetting off to Thailand. Why this sudden surge of tourists in Thailand? This time, the reason was not to visit Phi Phi Island but rather a Coldplay concert.

Thailand’s tourism industry is getting an astounding makeover, led by the Tourism Authority of Thailand. It has become a top tourist spot because of the amazing experiences it offers. By diving into the Experience Economy, Thailand is now the go-to place for travellers who want meaningful and lasting cultural experiences.  Thailand is capitalizing on this trend by hosting star-studded international concerts featuring big names like Blackpink, Harry Styles, Coldplay, Charlie Puth and upcoming performances by CNBLUE and Bruno Mars.

There is a growing trend to travel internationally for music, sports and other major events. In Asia Pacific alone, with its fast-growing youth population, the higher demand for live music performances is anticipated to lead the global music event market. Taylor Swift’s Eras tour illustrates how concerts stimulate economic activity in host cities. The US leg alone is expected to generate up to US$ 5 billion from various sources such as ticket sales, merchandise, food and drinks, as well as travel expenses like flights and accommodation. With the global music tourism market expected to grow to $11.3 billion by 2032, Thailand is in a great position to benefit from this trend.

The twin shocks of the pandemic and weak global trade have particularly impacted Thailand due to the country’s position as a trade and tourism hub. Thailand’s tourism arrivals reached only 75 percent of pre-pandemic levels in September 2022. The return of popular international artists and live concerts to Bangkok offers multiple benefits to the Thai economy. With the return of live concerts approaching pre-pandemic levels, which kicked off early in 2023 with Blackpink’s two-day Bangkok stop in January and Harry Styles and Arctic Monkeys’ concerts in March, Thailand is well on its way to benefit from the ‘Experience Economy.’ Thailand enjoyed a vibrant tourism industry during 2023, and that is being continued into 2024. This has positively affected the demand for accommodation and flights, and with added music tours making a comeback, it has also helped propel the travel industry to the next level.  Music tourism is not just limited to live performances, as surrounding attractions like restaurants and historical sites can also benefit from increased visits, to name only a few examples.

With dynamic travel demands and shifting travel needs, collaboration amongst industry players and government bodies is crucial to ensure different stakeholders are working towards the same objectives.  Through these partnerships, a seamless experience can be ensured for tourists, starting from generating awareness about various offerings and comparing prices and attractions to shaping travel itineraries and enhancing the overall physical experience when they arrive in Bangkok.

According to World Bank’s semi-annual Thailand Economic Monitor published in December 2023, the economy is expected to rebound in 2024, fueled by the recovery in tourism and goods exports, along with sustained private consumption, with growth projected to increase from 2.5 percent in 2022 to 3.2 percent in 2024. Tourism and private consumption are poised to be pivotal drivers of this growth, with tourism activity gradually supporting the overall economic recovery. In contrast, private consumption remains a solid contributor to the accelerating growth. Thailand ranked 36th among 136 countries in terms of its competitiveness for travel and tourism in 2021. Returning to pre-COVID tourism levels may prove challenging unless tourism competitiveness is improved and underlying infrastructure needs are met.

Bangkok’s appeal lies in its cultural diversity and geographical location in the centre of Asia. With tour promoters looking to lock in dates several months in advance, Thailand is poised to add more musical tourism to its growing list of entertainment options. This strong travel ecosystem will not only benefit the tourism industry but also contribute to the country’s infrastructure, cultural preservation, and overall development.


Author: Anika Tasnim

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