Thailand tops Airbnb search rankings

BANGKOK, 16 January 2024: A bilateral agreement between China and Thailand to open visa-free travel between the two countries starting 1 March could power Thailand towards its goal of 40 million international arrivals this year.

Thailand reached 39.8 million in 2019, with 11.1 million Chinese visitors driving that phenomenal result. In 2023, it welcomed 3.5 million Chinese visitors and a total of 27.25 million. Tourism officials remain confident that Thailand will again be the preferred destination among Chinese travellers once two-way visa-free travel is established between the two countries. It will act as a catalyst, pushing arrivals to the 40 million mark.

Data from Airbnb raises the confidence level in Thailand’s travel community. It shows Thailand tops the ranking for outbound search destinations for Airbnb guests from China this winter season*.

The top 10 most searched countries by Chinese guests on the platform this winter from December 2023 to February 2024 are*:

1. Thailand
2. Japan
3. New Zealand
4. Australia
5. United States of America
6. Malaysia
7. Indonesia
8. United Kingdom
9. Norway
10. South Korea

Notably, there are five Thai destinations amongst the 20 most searched cities and towns by Chinese guests on Airbnb this winter, namely Phuket (1), Bangkok (2), Chiang Mai (7), Koh Samui (10) and Pattaya (12).

Driving greater tourism growth

Since the reopening of cross-border travel in China last year, Airbnb has seen a surge in outbound travel by Chinese guests to various destinations. This is underscored by a year-over-year increase in outbound travel searches of over 14-fold by Airbnb users in China for the upcoming Chinese New Year period**.

Last year, searches for Airbnb trips to Asia Pacific destinations during the Golden Week Holiday period increased approximately 17-fold year-over-year.*** . In November-December 2023 alone, Airbnb saw an approximately 88% spike in searches for Thailand by Chinese travellers.****

Group travel (three or more guests) is also on the rise amongst Chinese travellers with searches for group travel stays increasing faster than solo/ duo travel searches. Interestingly, a large proportion of first-time bookers on Airbnb are group travellers.*****

Based on a Kantar survey commissioned by Airbnb last June, Chinese travellers’ top five accommodation priorities are reliability (89%), amenities (84%), customer service and support (80%), uniqueness (80%) and convenient location (56%).******

Airbnb’s general manager for Southeast Asia, India, Hong Kong, and Taiwan Amanpreet Bajaj said: “Thailand has been a popular destination among Chinese guests on Airbnb. We are thrilled with the Thai government’s announcement of a permanent visa waiver for citizens of both countries, further boosting inbound tourism to Thailand. We believe this policy will (cause) visitor numbers to surge and significantly fuel Thailand’s tourism resurgence post-pandemic.”

As part of its efforts to continue attracting more Chinese travellers to the region, Airbnb last year launched a once-in-a-lifetime Southeast Asia island hopping getaway for Chinese travellers, which featured Koh Samui, Thailand, amongst other islands in Malaysia and Indonesia. One winner and their four special guests got to experience Airbnb Superhost stays and local experiences showcasing the island’s vibrant community, hospitality and scenic beauty.

*Based on Airbnb mainland China users’ search data from 1 January 2023 to 30 September 2023 for winter outbound stays with check-in dates between 22 December 2023 and 29 February 2024.

**Based on Airbnb mainland China users’ search data from 1 July 2023 to 30 September 2023 for check-in dates between 8 February and 28 February 2024. 

***Based on Airbnb mainland China users’ search data from 1 July 2023 to 30 September 2023 for Golden Week outbound stays with check-in dates between 28 September 2023 and 5 October 2023.

****Based on internal Airbnb data on inbound China guest searches for stays in Thailand in October 2023 vs check-in in November 2023.

*****Based on Airbnb mainland China users’ search data from 1 January 2023 to 30 September 2023.

******Based on a survey of 900 Chinese outbound travellers commissioned by Airbnb and conducted by Kantar in June 2023.

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