Hua Hin, once thought of as a destination for retirees or the over 50s for both Thais and expats, is increasingly attracting younger visitors.
According to data provided to Hua Hin Today in April by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Prachuap Khiri Khan Office, ‘millennials’ or people in the Gen Y cohort account for just over 40% of all visitors to Hua Hin.
Millennials or Gen Y represents approximately 32 percent of the population in Thailand and is the generation that is typically defined as people born from 1981 to 1996.
They range from young professionals, to new parents, to parents in their thirties with children and have stable incomes, while at the same time many millennials choose to not have children or not until later in life.
In travel and tourism they value experiences above anything else, including above visiting ‘postcard’ or more typical must see destinations.
“They are self confident, creative and value experiences to counter their busy work life”, Mr Isara Stapanaseth Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Prachuap Khiri Khan office told Hua Hin Today.
“Eco tourism, community tourism and activities they can do together with their kids are also important to them”.
“They make trips around food, yoga, massage, sightseeing and nature trails and they like to visit places such as the safari in the national park in Kuiburi or the marine park in Pranburi, for example”.
And they are more than willing to pay for those experiences.
“Gen Y tourists to Hua Hin spend on average 4,350 baht per person per day, while the average length of stay is more than two nights,” Mr Isara said.
“They will also spend an extra 2,000 baht on excursions on average”.
Both in Hua Hin and throughout the province Mr Isara gave some examples of how TAT Prachuap has been attracting Gen Y tourists.
Beyond Hua Hin, Mr Isara explained how a unique experience in Thap Sakae district has proved a big hit with Gen Y tourists.
“The ‘sand spa’ in Thap Sakae is very popular, with the community there recently winning a tourism award”.
The ‘sand spa’, thought to be the only one of its kind in Thailand, is run by the Thung Pradu Community Tourism Community Enterprise.
The ‘spa’ sees people buried up to their necks in the sand at Ban Thung Pradu beach for up to 30 minutes, with the large and coarse grains of sand helping to clean the skin.
Millennials are also the first generation of digital natives and they are plugged to their devices 24/7.
They love using technology to make their life easier and smoother – especially when it comes to traveling.
And they are of course eager to post on social media about their travel experiences, such as when they visit the attractions such as the sand spa.
“Over 65 percent of Gen Y will share photos of their experiences on social media,” Mr Isara said.
“That’s why you see more places like coffee shops now having the areas where people can take photos”.
Mr Isara explained that TAT Prachuap recently combined people’s love of coffee and social media in a promotional campaign targeting Gen Y tourists.
The ‘coffee-lover’ promotion encouraged people to visit up to 36 local coffee shops, taking and sharing a photo in each location in return for a voucher.
Hua Hin welcomes tour operators from key markets
As well as giving an insight into the increasing numbers of Gen Y tourists visiting the city, Mr Isara also revealed how overseas tour operators are looking to bring the next wave of foreign tourists to Hua Hin.
At the end of April, tour operators from China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan visited Hua Hin on fact finding missions which sought to promote Hua Hin to tourists in the aforementioned countries.
In the same week, ten agents from Europe and a group made up of tour agents and media from Russia visited Hua Hin for similar visits.
“These are our key overseas markets, especially for wellness tourism”.