Scandinavia as a tourist destination has experienced steady growth in the past several years among well-heeled Thai travellers who enjoy clean air, excellent food, nice locals as well as distinct and varied seasonal landscapes.
Mongkol Kupresert, managing director of Tourlines Co., Ltd., said Thais with sizeable disposable incomes have already visited much of the key destinations in Europe and now they want to explore the Nordic region.
The veteran tour operator said typically first-time Thai visitors to Denmark, Norway, Sweden or Finland have already been to major tourist spots, like Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany, Britain and Eastern Europe when they turn their attention to North Europe.
“Our clients on average have travelled to Europe at least three times before they even considered Scandinavia,” said Mongkol.
According to Mongkol who has more than 20 years of experience with outbound tourism to Scandinavia, the region has been and continues to be one of favourite destinations for older high net-worth Thai tourists.
“Varied seasonal landscapes, excellent food, the midnight sun, have always been the main draws for more matured travellers. But in recent years, we have seen young crowds who are very much into more into such activities as snowmobile and dog sledge riding.”
The age range of Thai visitors was 50-80 years, now it is dropping to 30-45 years.
Tourlines, one of the top outbound tour operators to the Nordic countries, sends about 400 tourists to the region in 2013. Mongkol said he expected growth in number of Thai visitors to Scandinavia to continue in the range of 5-10 percent as has been the case in the past several years.
This year, in a single-biggest group of tourists ever from Thailand, Amway Thailand sent 1,950 on a cruise tour of the Nordic/Baltic, covering Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Russia in May. That tour group was part of incentive travel organised by the direct-marketing giant as reward for outstanding sales figures.
“Amway Thailand chose Scandinavia/Nordic region for this incentive travel programme because this is one of those fantastic destinations on the top of the list of countries that many Thais would like to visit, particularly the Midnight Sun,” said Mr. Waranon Kongpatimakorn, Business Relations Director.
The Danish Embassy’s visa section reported a sharp spike in visa applications in April with some 100 applications flooding in daily. It was about four times as many as on a normal day in for example November 2013 when about 20-30 applications were received by the visa section each day.
“Typically the peak season for visa issuance is from March to August. This year we are extraordinarily busy as one of the tourist groups going to Denmark consists of almost 2,000 tourists who will join a cruise tour in Scandinavia out of Copenhagen in May 2014.
The visa section has hired extra temporary staff for the busiest time of the peak season to ensure that the processing time of maximum 15 days for issuance of a visa can be maintained.
Caption: Members of the 1,950-strong Thai tour group organised by Amway (Thailand) Ltd. as part of incentive travel, on board Celebrity Infinity cruise ship that takes them from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Russia’s St. Petersburg. Photo courtesy of Amway Thailand’s Facebook fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/amwaythailand