Indian Tourists' Satisfaction of Bangkok, Thailand

Article excerpt

Indian outbound tourist flow is expected to increase annually. This study investigates Indian tourists' satisfaction of Bangkok, Thailand. The study reveals that these Indian tourists are highly educated and mostly hail from Mumbai and New Delhi. They are highly satisfied with the Suvarnabhumi International Airport, attraction, and shopping, while their satisfaction levels are low regarding english speaking ability, variety of food, and traffic. The majority of Indian tourists (over 90%) show their willingness to return and recommend Bangkok and Thailand as travel destinations. The findings of this study benefit Tourism Authority of Thailand and tourism businesses.

INTRODUCTION

Consumer satisfaction is a key to a business's success. It indicates the positive emotion and experience of consumers toward the business. Satisfied consumers also have a propensity to repurchase and recommend products to their families and friends. To achieve consumers' satisfaction, businesses must understand consumers' needs to be able to provide products and services that meet or exceed consumers' expectations.

City tourism is one of the fastest growing segments in the tourism industry (Paskaleva-Shapira, 2007). The success of destination marketing lies in the ability to brand a city, understand visitors' perceptions and satisfaction, provide value, and manage the total visitor experience (Tasci, et al, 2007). Thus, destination marketers make extensive efforts in promoting the city and retaining tourists to maintain the destination's position in the marketplace.

Tourists around the world visit Thailand all year round due to its reputation in having an elaborate history, rich culture and beautiful natural resources, and also because of the hospitality of Thai people (Meng, Tepanon, & Uysal, 2006). Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand and the winner of Travel and Leisure's 2010 World's Best Cities with the highest score of 90.30/100. Six characteristics of the city were rated and these included including sights, culture and arts, restaurants and food, people, shopping, and value (Travel and Leisure magazine, 2010).

Among travellers from South Asia, Indian tourists are the most prevalent in Thailand (Tourism Authority of Thailand, 2007). Bergheim (2005) revealed that by the year 2020, the top 5 countries in terms of growth rates of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), would be India followed by Malaysia, China, Thailand, and Turkey. India is one of the biggest potential outbound markets (expresshospitality.com, 2001). The statistics from the India Bureau of Immigration also show that Indian outbound travellers form a lucrative market. Every year Indians travel to foreign countries in a large number, and this has increased dramatically 6.21 million Indian made outbound visits in 2004, 7.18 million in 2005, and 8.34 million in 2006 (Market Research Division of Government of India, 2007). Due to the country's economic growth, there are more middle class Indians who now have purchasing power than ever before. These Indian middle class consumers are well educated and well versed with the language, English; therefore travelling to foreign countries is more feasible (ITB Berlin, 2007).

This Indian outbound segment is a business opportunity for destination marketers to increase the market share and to take advantage of increasing business opportunity, hospitality professionals need to study Indian travellers. However, there is no research reported on the Indian travel market. This study, therefore, aims to examine Indian tourists regarding their travel experience within the Bangkok area of Thailand to gain a better understanding of Indian tourists' behaviour.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Tourist Satisfaction

Satisfaction is an outcome experience that has at least met or has exceeded expectations (Engel et al, 1995). Extant Literature suggests nine theories on customer satisfaction: expectancy disconfirmation, assimilation or cognitive dissonance, contrast, assimilation contrast, equity, attribution, comparison level, generalised negativity, and value perception. …