According to the Mastercard Global Destinations Index, Bangkok is the most visited city in the world with 21.47 million overnight visitors in 2016.
There are several factors that make Thailand’s capital the world’s leading destination and one of them is food.
Anyone familiar with Thailand is aware of Thais’ love of food and now the world is learning more about Thai cuisine. There are few cities in the world without a Thai restaurant. Today, Bangkok is delivering a wide range of authentic Thai food and is growing as a foodie destination.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand has been using ‘Thai Food’ as their strategy to promote sustainable tourism. Social media platforms, such as YouTube and Facebook, are the most effective channels to reach travelers, especially independent travelers who rely on the internet to plan their trip. For example, the ‘Thai-Licious Journey’ series campaign on YouTube aims to promote Bangkok as a food capital of the world.
In addition to the government’s effort to promote Thai cuisine, the private sector is also playing a role to raise awareness. The Minor Group—one of the largest hospitality and leisure companies in APAC—has expanded their Thai Express restaurant brand across six countries in Asia Pacific. Thailand’s Mudman Group has also established their Greyhound Café restaurant brand in Hong Kong and Beijing.
In terms of variety, Bangkok offers a range of dining experiences from local street food to cutting-edge restaurants. Bangkok was ranked by CNN as the Best City in the World for Street Food in 2017. On the other end of the scale, the city is now home to two out of the fifty finest culinary establishments on the planet, according to the EATER website—Gaggan and Nahm. Bangkok’s bars are also world-famous; Sirocco Sky Bar featured in ‘The Hangover Part II’ movie.
Retail landlords have been revising their retail mix by adding more F&B tenants, ranging from international restaurants to an indoor street food experience. For example, the Terminal 21 shopping center offers Thai local street food at affordable prices, as well as Tim Ho Wan, a one-star Michelin restaurant.
Many of today’s travelers, especially millennials, have become more sophisticated and want authenticity and experience; Bangkok is increasingly catering to this market. Retail landlords who are using a placemaking strategy want restaurants that can give them a competitive edge to attract locals as well as international visitors.
Traditionally, fast-food tenants have been the highest F&B rent payers but nowadays, landlords of many Bangkok shopping centers want to create a unique selling point, which means accepting lower rents to secure a wider range of restaurants.
Bangkok is growing as a foodie destination and we can expect to see a wider and more sophisticated range of restaurants for Thai regional and international cuisines.
Chotika Tungsirisurp is an Associate Director who leads the Research and Consulting Department of CBRE Thailand. Chotika has advised over 100 clients on real estate opportunities in Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. Real estate opportunities include Location Analysis, Market Analysis, Feasibility Studies, Recommendations on Highest and Best Use, and Project Development Consulting.