TRAVEL DECISIONS IN THE NEW NORMAL ERA OF GENERATION Z TRAVELERS IN THAILAND
Abstract - Before COVID-19, travel and tourism had become one of the most important sectors in the world economy, but changes in travel habits will challenge the industry to meet the new demands of travelers. Despite the development and widespread deployment of COVID-19 vaccines since December 2020, the virus continues to spread worldwide, and predicting the resolution of the COVID-19 pandemic remains a formidable challenge. The Thai government has tried to encourage domestic tourism, and local residents have been encouraged to explore different regions within Thailand, thereby supporting the tourism sector and the domestic economy. It is crucial for the tourist industry to understand domestic travelers in order to adjust their operations. The aim of this study is to determine the preferences of Thai travelers with respect to domestic travel after the COVID-19 crisis. A qualitative study was undertaken based on a literature review and the focus groups of Thai domestic travelers. Participants in the focus group sessions were bachelor’s degree students at Srinakharinwirot University (semester 1/2022). There were six focus groups with six participants in each group, for a total of thirty-six participants. Six key factors determining travel decisions emerged from the focus groups: rate of accommodation, tourism outdoor activities, the government campaign, review, safety measure, and destination along with five “travel behaviors” which included mode of transport, duration of travel, travel style, travel period, and travel companions.
The results of this study have several implications for tourism operators in order to customize their marketing strategies for Thai citizens traveling within Thailand in the “new normal.”
Keywords - Travel Decisions, New Normal, Generation Z, Traveler