Hua Hin Tipped to Lead Thailand’s Tourism Revival

Bird's-eye view of the Hua Hin resort town.

As Thailand starts to look at a purposive resumption of domestic travel, Hua Hin is a favourite to capture pent-up demand due to the old adage ‘location, location, location’.

The above is one of the observations of the newly released C9Hotelworks report, ‘Hua Hin Hotel Market Update’. With the Covid-19 crisis moving forward and tourism remaining on the cusp, destinations within an easy drive from Bangkok appear to have a clear-cut advantage in seeing travel

Both overnight stays and day trips look to be the agents of change in the short-term. Hua Hin has escaped the gloomy predictions that have featured in reports about the tourism future of Pattaya and Phuket. As a family-friendly destination with a diverse and sustainable range of attractions, Hua Hin has not seen the exodus of the population witnessed in these two beachside rivals. Post Covid-19, Hua Hin is expected to recover faster than other tourist destinations in the country, Hua Hin Tipped to Lead Thailand’s Tourism Revival with the domestic sector being the dominant source market accounting for 74 % of the demand.

Tourists floods the seaside restaurants along the Hua Hin Pier road during the high season.

The market-wide average room rate has held over the past few years and surpassed the 4,000-baht level in 2019. In many other Thai resort destinations, rates have been flat – or in some cases retreated – in the face of mass tourism and appreciation of the Thai baht.

The domestic sector is mostly direct FITs or booked through OTAs, and there is a strong MICE element given the close proximity to Greater Bangkok. Domestic visitors have longer stays on public and school holidays. The C9Hotelworks report describes Hua Hin’s international tourism ambitions as linked to the current airport expansion plan.

Two crucial parts of the plan come into focus: The runway extension and additional apron space that will accommodate larger intra-regional aircraft, and the development of the airport terminal that will take two to three years to complete. Once the expansion is completed, more low-cost carriers are expected with direct routes from regional markets such as mainland China, India and ASEAN countries. Foreign demand can be split into two significant segments: European ‘snowbirds’ who winter holiday in Asia and Chinese tour groups.

The impact of AirAsia’s direct flights between Hua Hin and Kuala Lumpur emerged as a factor. In 2019, passenger arrivals tallied at 44,613 and the airlift is creating a new profile for Hua Hin as a destination. Emerging international markets from Asian countries were led by Taiwan (23 %), Hong Kong (19 %), and Japan (19 %).

By Hua Hin Today