Why Bangkok is the world’s number one tourist destination

Why Bangkok is the world’s number one tourist destination

By Jake Maxwell Watts @jmwatts_ May 28, 2013

Bangkok has beaten London to the number one spot as 2013’s most popular tourist destination, and it’s not just because of Thailand’s reputation for spicy food and Buddhist temples: It’s the shopping.

Thailand’s capital is expected to receive 15.98 million tourists in 2013, compared to London’s 15.96 million and Paris’s 13.92 million, according to MasterCard’s latest Global Destination Cities Index. The city’s luxury malls are legion; Bangkok’s Siam Paragon shopping mall is the world’s second-most photographed location on Instagram, trailing only Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport.The most interesting trend in the MasterCard data is the surge of Chinese tourists, now the world’s most numerous at 83 million per year and increasingly from smaller cities as well as large ones. They spend an awful lot of money abroad—$102 billion in 2012—and a decent chunk of it goes to retailers in Bangkok. The average Chinese visitor spends $167 per day in Thailand, according to the Thai-Chinese Tourism Alliance, and most stay one week, coughing up a total of $1,000 to $1,300 each.

“Most of them are avid shoppers, snatching up brand name products at duty-free shops and stores around Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong Intersection [home of Siam Paragon and several other big malls],” TCTA president Kasean Wattanachaopisuttold TTR Weekly. While Chinese tourists are no doubt popular with luxury retailers,their reputations have suffered recently, most notably when a Chinese teenagerwrote his name on a 3,500 year old Egyptian artifact, prompting Beijing to react with a list of rules to help tourists avoid upsetting the locals.

Bangkok’s popularity as a tourist destination looks unlikely to wane any time soon, thanks in part to a hit Chinese film called Lost in Thailandwhich drew thousands of Chinese tourists. But Thailand’s capital also remains relatively cheap compared to other regional destinations like Singapore, and a hub for everything from pirated DVDs to luxury handbags. The weather can be steamy and the traffic is murder, but inside the shopping malls, it’s an air-conditioned paradise for vacationers whose favorite activity is to give their credit cards a workout.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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