Today, Expedia.co.th® released the results of the 2017 Expedia® Flip Flop Report, a global study that explores cultural differences in beach attitudes and behaviors across 17 countries from around the globe, involving more than 15,000 respondents who are over the age of 18. The results are an enlightening and entertaining look at what goes into a beach vacation, including the most popular destinations, which countries’ residents don the most risqué beach attire, and what behaviors will get you banned from the sand. Report also reveals in-depth findings about Thai travelers, and their interesting beach behaviours.
Thai Travelers Love a Good Tan
Being residents of a tropical and sunny country, Thais are no stranger to beach vacations. From the 852 respondents in Thailand, 95 percent of Thais have been on a beach vacation, and 73 percent have done so in the past year. Of those who have taken a beach vacation, 42 percent have traveled internationally for a sunny holiday by the beach, while 58 percent have only stayed in their country of residence.
For Thais, the most travelled-to destination for a beach vacation is their own country with 7 in 10 (69 percent) having been on a beach holiday in Thailand. Following Thailand, Singapore (17 percent), Japan (16 percent), Hawaii (14 percent) and Australia (12 percent) are the most travelled to destinations for a beach vacation.
When it comes to international visitors taking beach vacations in Thailand, 12 percent of global travelers have vacationed at a Thai beach. Amongst beach vacationers, 1 in 5 (21 percent) South Koreans have taken a beach vacation in Thailand, 17 percent of Indians and, 15 percent of Australians.
As much as studies show how Thais travel most to their own country, most Thai travelers still carry a strong wish list of dream beach destinations. The study showed that 9 out of 10 (92 percent) Thais have a beach destination on their bucket list. Topping the beach destination wish list is Waikiki, Hawaii with half (49 percent) of Thais choosing to travel there, followed by Seminyak, Bali (32 percent), Amalfi, Italy (16 percent), and Paradise Beach (12 percent).
Time Well Spent on Vacation
Though every beach vacation starts as soon as the journey begins, Thai travelers show strong preference for short travel time and distance to their beach vacation. On average, Thais are willing to sit on an airplane for an average time of close to 4 hours and in a road vehicle for 4.5 hours. Thais are also willing to drive and fly for the least amount of time globally. However, despite their relatively low willingness to travel, 1 out of 10 Thais would drive (12 percent) or fly (10 percent) for more than 9 hours to reach a beach destination.
On average, Thais spend close to 5 days away on a beach vacation. International holidays are longer on average than domestic holidays (6 days and more than 4 days respectively). Only 12 percent of Thais would travel for more than a week.
Making Travel Decisions
When deciding on a beach vacation destination, the most influential factors for Thais include safety (96 percent) and cleanliness (96 percent) of the beach, followed by great weather (92 percent) and the total cost (88 percent). Adult-only resorts and activities are considered important aspects for two thirds (66 percent) of Thais, making them the most likely to find this aspect important (with a Global average of 53 percent). Thais are the second most likely, after India (74 percent) to consider social media visibility an important aspect of a beach holiday (69 percent with a Global average of 55 percent). Interestingly, Thais are least interested in beach holiday destinations where there are plenty of singles, with two thirds (68 percent) finding this the least important aspect.
The Happy Travelers
Thais love their beach vacations, given that 97 percent were satisfied with their latest beach holiday, and more than 2 in 5 (43 percent) were very satisfied. The longer Thai vacationers are away, the more likely they are to be very satisfied. More than two thirds (65 percent) of Thai vacationers who go away for more than 3 weeks are very satisfied compared to 62 percent from those who go away for more than two weeks, and 46 percent for those who go away for more than 1 week.
Thai vacationers are slightly more likely to be very satisfied on an international beach vacation than one closer to home (international 46 percent versus domestic 41 percent). Most notably, more than half (54 percent) of Thais whose last beach vacation was in Hawaii are very satisfied.
No matter who they travel with, more than 95 percent of Thais are generally satisfied with their holiday. However, traveling families are more likely to be very satisfied (45 percent) than traveling couples to be very satisfied (40 percent).
The Ultimate Value-for-Money Beach Vacation
Thai vacationers like to indulge themselves but do so very wisely. They spend an average of more than US$1,400 on their last beach vacation. Globally, this is the lowest cost for a beach vacation (Global average is more than US$2,000). Older Thais spend the most on beach holidays (close the US$2000 compared to a Gen Y at more than US$1,400 and Gen X at more than US$1,100). Travelling couples spend the most on beach vacations overall (close to US$20008) followed by travelling families (more than US$1,500). Travelling with friends seems to be the cheapest overall for a beach holiday (close to US$950), cheaper than for groups of singles travelling together (more than US$1,000).
Beach Annoyances, Nightmares and Etiquette
Cultural differences inarguably affect beach attitudes and travel etiquette. Studies showed that Thai beachgoers feel quite similarly to vacationers from other countries when it comes to beach annoyances, nightmares and etiquette.
A Burkini for women is considered the most acceptable beach attire amongst Thais (88 percent), more so than any other common beach attire. However, a thong style swimsuit for women is also widely accepted (83 percent), making it the 2nd most accepted attire, followed by a thong-style swimsuit for men (77 percent).
Almost all of Thais surveyed find at least one common trait of a beachgoer annoying. Most commonly Thais are annoyed by ‘the slob’ (66 percent), followed by ‘the boozer’ (55 percent) and ‘the canoodler’ (51 percent). All three have been increasingly annoying to Thai beachgoers since 2016.
The Inevitable Anxiety
When thinking about taking a beach vacation, Thais are most likely to feel anxious about the risk of theft (79 percent), followed by lost property (74 percent), drowning or strong rip currents (73 percent) and being stung by a jellyfish or stingray (73 percent) while 97 percent of Thai parents have at least one anxiety regarding their children while on a beach vacation. Most common concerns about children are falling sick (68 percent), followed by drowning or drifting into deep water (67 percent), and jellyfish stings (63 percent). Globally, Thai parents are the most likely to get anxious about their children falling sick (with Global average of 56 percent).
Beach Holiday Preparation
Thai vacationers would start to get themselves ‘beach ready’ by over a month or about an average of 36 days, before leaving for their vacation, in line with the global average of close to 1.5 months. On average, Thai vacationers would spend more than 9 hours and are willing to spend more than US$80 getting themselves ‘beach ready’.2 in 5 (40 percent) of Thai vacationers would pack the day before they leave, but 14 percent of Thai travelers spend more time packing than actually being on vacation.
The over-packing phenomenon is a reality for 4 in 5 (83 percent%) of Thai vacationers, with a large proportion going for a more-than-needed number of items: 62 percent would willingly lug along jumbo packs of sunscreen, 61 percent would pack multiple pairs of sunglasses, and 33 percent take multiple pairs of swimmers.
Sun safety appears paramount when packing, with 9 in 10 (89 percent) Thai vacationers packing at least one item that protects them from the sun.
Typical Beach Behavior
Beach activities Thais are most likely to take part in when on a beach is walking (73 percent always or frequently do it), maintaining its top position on the list of beach activities since 2016. Taking selfies is the 2nd most common activity for Thais. This makes Thais the most likely to take selfies at the beach globally (56 percent compared to the global average of 33 percent). Listening to music (50 percent) and swimming (48 percent) are the 3rd and 4th most common activity respectively, followed by posting photos on social media (48 percent).
Yoga, Tai Chi, meditation (11 percent), skinny dipping or swimming nude (12 percent), and sunbathing (15 percent) are the least participated-in activities amongst Thais while on the beach.
Flirting and Romance at the Beach
The most common romantic activity Thais have done at the beach is to go for a romantic sunset beach walk (65 percent) and more than a quarter (28 percent) have been chatted up by a stranger. Thais are generally not very engaged in other romantic activities on the beach with only 14 percent of Thais have been asked out on a date, and 13 percent have asked someone out on a date.
Thais think the most attractive beachgoers are those from Hawaii (59 percent) followed by Australia (37 percent), Brazil (17 percent), California (16 percent), and France (12 percent).
Simon Fiquet, General Manager for Southeast Asia and India, brand Expedia said: “The study cements the fact that Thai-based vacationers fully understand what their country has to offer when it comes to a beach holidays. Domestically, the Thai tourism industry is seeing positive growth with popular destinations like the Phra Nang Beach, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Chang, Ko Lipe, Ko Phuket, Ko Samui, Hua Hin, Ko Tao beaches continuing to attract local and foreign travelers year after year.”