Airbnb and Tourism Authority of Thailand Empower Travel Beyond Big Cities

A colorful illustration of a small agricultural town between a river and mountains.

Nong Saeng, Doi Phuiko, Wang Thong and many more emerging destinations in Thailand are set to benefit from a unique collaboration between the world’s largest community-driven hospitality platform Airbnb and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) with the launch of the Beyond Big Cities website. This industry-first collaboration will see the two tourism powerhouses — through the use of Big Data and leveraging of Airbnb’s digital technology expertise — drive domestic and international travel to off-the-beaten-track destinations throughout Thailand, going beyond the big cities and supporting local community-led tourism in line with the Royal Thai Government’s policies.

“Airbnb is keen to see the benefits of Thailand’s tourism reach local communities throughout the country and to this end we have been working with and supporting many Thai government agencies. This new collaboration will enable TAT to clearly see domestic and international traveller trends, and how there are growing numbers travelling beyond Thailand’s big cities and exploring off-the-beaten-track destinations around the country. This supports the government’s goal to diversify tourism and to create a more sustainable tourism model that supports local entrepreneurs,” shared Mich Goh, Head of Public Policy for Southeast Asia, Airbnb. 

Speaking about the first-of-its-kind partnership, Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, Deputy Governor for Digitalisation, Research and Development, the Tourism Authority of Thailand said, “Our collaboration with Airbnb will give TAT access to valuable data and help us to better track tourism trends around the country. One of our policies is to encourage responsible tourism to emerging destinations throughout Thailand and working with Airbnb will help us to achieve this and further grow tourism at a local community level.”

By working with local governments and tourism organisations to empower more hospitality entrepreneurs to share their spaces and passions with guests around the world, Airbnb continues to make travel to emerging destinations more accessible. And one area in which we are seeing spikes in travel is during big events held in emerging destinations.

Beyond big cities: Supporting big events

In the past year, over 250,000 guests traveled with Airbnb to big events beyond big cities across Asia Pacific, bringing more than THB728 million in host earnings to our community in these destinations* during these events.

In the up-and-coming sports tourism hub of Buriram, Thailand, Airbnb partnered with the Ministry of Tourism and Sports’ Department of Tourism and homestay provider B-STAY to build flexible accommodation supply for the Thailand MotoGP 2018 and 2019. For this year’s MotoGP, Airbnb’s host community in Buriram welcomed over 430 guests from more than 100 cities around the world into their homes and communities, a 96% year-on-year increase. This number is continuing to grow as more locals open up their homes to both Thai and international visitors who want to experience Buriram in a local, authentic way.

“Governments and travellers have turned to Airbnb as a sustainable solution to scale up accommodation supply without having to invest in additional infrastructure, all while supporting hospitality entrepreneurs who want to share their local culture with visitors,” added Goh. “This trend is on the rise as smaller cities in Asia Pacific increasingly play host to big tourism events, such as the recent Rugby World Cup in Japan, where we saw guest arrivals grow approximately 176% in Kumamoto and 100% in Oita compared to the same time last year.”

Sporting events held in emerging destinations such as The North Face 100 Thailand in Nakhon Ratchasima, 2019 Buriram Marathon, Prachuap Khiri Run By Tipco 2019 in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Columbia Trail Masters 2019 in Rayong are driving tourism to these areas, as are local festivals and music festivals such as Big Mountain Music Festival in Nakhon Ratchasima, E-San Music Festival and Khon Kaen International Festival in Khon Kaen, and OverCoat Music Festival in Phetchabun.

Airbnb remains committed to investing in regional efforts to disperse travel away from over-touristed hotspots to destinations off the beaten path.

“Events can provide real opportunity for local communities to benefit from tourism and Airbnb offers guests an authentic travel experience. We see more and more people travelling to emerging destinations, exploring local neighbourhoods and their spend going direct to the community. We look forward to our collaboration with the TAT providing real on-the-ground benefit for community tourism countrywide,” concluded Goh.

*Based on internal Airbnb data from Oct 2018 – Oct 2019. Markets studied exclusively for this report include: Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China, Japan, India, Sri Lanka. Off-the-beaten-track destinations were defined using government terminology and definitions, as well as internal Airbnb data.