LVH exclusive - Bali, Thailand Top the Destination List

Bali, Phuket and Koh Samui all featured in the Top 10 list of the recently released 2012 Best in Travel Poll, conducted by Smart Travel Asia.

The online poll was conducted over a 3-month period and approximately 70% of the respondents were based in Asia (mainly Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, India, China, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, and the Middle East), 15% were in the UK/Europe and 15% in the USA and North America.

The travellers in the poll made an average of 16.22 air trips during the 12 months prior to the survey, and earned an average  of $162,134 in household income. Interestingly, only 9% of respondents said they made travel decisions online and just 37% said they booked accommodation directly online, as many preferred to talk to someone and ask questions, especially for luxury level reservations. Most of the people also said they went online to look for independent reviews and information rather than search for the best price.

In the holiday destination categories, Bali took the top spot, with Phuket second and Koh Samui at number 10. This is an impressive showing for the globally renowned islands and underlines the enduring popularity of all three destinations for visitors from around the region and beyond. Bangkok was also voted fourth best city to do business, so the opportunity to combine business and leisure in Thailand is an obvious draw.

Thailand and Bali are no strangers to travel and tourism accolades. Earlier this year, Thailand was named Most Popular Destination at the at the International Tourism Exchange (ITB) Berlin 2012, the world’s leading B2B platform for the travel and tourism industry. The Kingdom also received the Golfers’ Choice Award 2012 from Hong Kong-based Golf Vacations Magazine, voted as the top destination by golfers in Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland China. Bali has been named Asia Pacific's leading destination twice at the The World Travel Awards, and also received World Best Island in Asia 2010 award from Travel and Leisure magazine based in New York. This year, the Island of the Gods was honoured with the Best Leisure Destination in Asia Pacific award from the Business Travellers Asia Pacific magazine, based in Hong Kong.

Awards and Top 10 lists have in the last few years become an important source for global holidaymakers searching online and in magazines for the best place to spend their next vacation. However, the rise in social media also means travellers increasingly base their holiday choices on personal recommendations, either directly from friends via sites like Facebook and Twitter or after reading personal accounts and recommendations on travel blogs and diaries.

Many of the world's sofa travellers now make virtual journeys around the world before they pick a real world experience. Reading a personal account of a trip or an honest accommodation review provides a welcome alternative to the sugar coated marketing speak often used in advertising campaigns or promotional materials. Another trend is to choose a destination based on a particular holiday wish list. Watersports enthusiast may search for the dive sites or surfing beaches, health seekers read up on spa and wellness offerings and foodies look for the chance to taste local flavours or indulge in the culinary creations of celebrated chefs. Destinations that cater to a wide range of interests and individual preferences therefore score highly in the most important of all the travel charts — visitor numbers.

Destinations like Bali, Phuket and Koh Samui all offer an eclectic blend of choices and experiences that allow travellers to tailor their trip to fit their personal holiday aspirations. Whether its culture, adventure, health, taste or revelry, all three islands boast multiple choices that also cater to a range of niche preferences and varied budgets. This diversity, coupled with the islands' famed natural assets and hospitable people, mean they can always count on an a weighty vote in the many travel and holiday polls and surveys that now score big on the world wide web.