Thailand strong in food tourism, but slightly behind Japan

SUNDAY, APRIL 14, 2024

Food is a source of pride for Thailand's tourism sector, jointly promoted by the government and the private sector. Highlighting the strengths of Thai cuisine, renowned globally and a major attraction for tourists, it plays a vital role in attracting tourists.

However, Japan has surpassed Thailand in branding this aspect.

Nithee Seeprae, deputy director of marketing and communications, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), revealed the Thailand Culinary Image Assessment and Michelin Guide Thailand 2023 project, surveying opinions of foreign tourists (online 1,800 samples, interviews 1,200 samples) and Thai tourists (online 800 samples, interviews 400 samples), conducted by KenetiXs Consulting Co Ltd.

The survey found that Japan is the top destination for food tourism, with a score of 56% in 2023, up from 54% in 2022.

Thailand ranks second at 44%, up from 38%, followed by China at 30%, up from 24%. South Korea is fourth at 28%, slightly down from 29%, and Hong Kong is fifth at 27%, up from 25%.

Going deeper into the perception and effectiveness of the Michelin Guide Thailand project in 2023, the survey found that among foreign tourists, awareness of the Michelin Guide for restaurants and accommodations remained at 76%, the same as the previous year. However, awareness of the Michelin Guide Thailand increased to 18% from 16% the year before.

This guide also influenced travel destination choices, with 62% making decisions based on it, the same as the previous year.

Regarding the aspects of satisfaction, behavioural impact, and attitude of foreign tourists who dine at Michelin-rated restaurants, here are the scores from various perspectives:

- Overall satisfaction remained high at 95% in 2023, the same as 2022.

- 85% shared their dining experiences online, up from 83% in 2022.

- 92% expressed willingness to revisit Michelin-rated restaurants, slightly down from 93% in 2022.

- 97% recommended these restaurants to others, slightly down from 98% in 2022.

- 95% tried dining at other Michelin-rated restaurants in Thailand, up from 94% in 2022.

- 97% recommended Thailand as a culinary tourism destination, the same as in 2022.

For an estimate of the number of foreign tourists who are aware of and have experienced the Michelin Guide Thailand project in 2023, the survey found that 40% were aware of the project, and it influenced 11% in their decision to visit Thailand, which translates to about 1.86 million people.

This estimation is based on the target number of tourists from 23 countries who travelled to Thailand from January to September 2022 and had dined at Michelin award-winning restaurants, accounting for 8%, or about 1.33 million people.

Although the awareness level of the Michelin Guide Thailand project in 2023 is close to the 39% in 2022, and its impact on the decision to visit Thailand remains the same at 11%, the estimated number is 940,000 people in 2022.

Regarding the question of having dined at Michelin award-winning restaurants, the rate remains at 8%, but the estimated number is about 690,000 people in 2022.

"The additional revenue from food expenditure by foreign tourists resulting from the implementation of the Michelin Guide Thailand project was approximately 262.99 million baht in 2023, an increase from 223.34 million baht in 2022,” Nithee said.

In the Thai tourists segment, a survey showed that awareness of the Michelin Guide decreased to 58% from 78% compared with the previous year. However, awareness of the Michelin Guide Thailand decreased to 46% from 61%. Nevertheless, the Michelin Guide Thailand significantly stimulated the desire for domestic travel, increasing to 96% from 89%.

"In terms of satisfaction among Thai tourists who dine at Michelin-starred restaurants, overall satisfaction score in 2023 increased slightly to 92% from 91% in 2022," Nithee said.