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Sunday 7 February 2016

Always a favourite: Thailand never goes out of fashion

Maybe it is the smiles of the welcoming locals. Perhaps it is the spicy, affordable food. Or maybe the beautiful beaches. Or perhaps the party atmosphere. Or even the great shopping, or the cheap massages.

Whatever motivates you to visit Thailand, it seems the world shares your enthusiasm. 

The first MasterCard's Asia Pacific Destinations Index for 2015, an offshoot of the annual Global Destination Cities Index, revealed that Bangkok topped the most popular city list with 21.9 million international overnight visitors, representing a 28.6% growth over the previous year. 

It also topped the total nights stayed by international tourists with a cumulative 107 million nights and also topped the total amount spent at US$15.2 billion.

When comparing with destination cities in the Asia-Pacific, Bangkok retained its position at No.1. That ranking has remained unchanged since 2013 when the Thai capital became the first Asian city to top the global list.

It is followed by Phuket which recorded 9.3 million, or a 15.5 per cent growth, and Pattaya, which saw 8.1 million, a 10% growth, in international overnight visitors in 2015. 

These figures are remarkable given Thailand has encountered natural disasters and recent political upheaval. 

Euromonitor International, meanwhile, has released its fifth annual survey on 'Top 100 City Destinations' in terms of international tourist arrivals in 2014. 

Its 'Top 100 City Destinations Ranking' reported on January 28, named three Thai destinations among the world's top 25 with Bangkok coming in fourth, followed by Phuket in 17th spot and Pattaya 19th.

Dr Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said: “We are honoured to be recognised by two of the world's most prestigious organisations. Despite the challenges we had to go through in 2015, global travellers remain confident in our country and made a decision to make Thailand their travel destination.”

Bangkok is well-known among international travellers for a variety of shopping choices, authentic Thai food, cultural heritage, lively nightlife, and beautiful historical attractions, while Pattaya and Phuket are both famous beach resort cities.

In 2015, the Thai tourism industry hit the highest record in its history, receiving tourism revenue of 1.4 trillion Baht or a 23 per cent year-on-year increase, and attracting 29.8 million international tourist arrivals or an increase of 20 per cent over 2014. 

# For bookings before February 29, Thai Airways fares from Australia start from $652 for travel to Bangkok from Perth; or from $757 from Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane (seasonal surcharges apply); Royal Silk Business Class starts from $3,231; or from $3,839 from the East Coast. See 

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