China market poised to regain top position
text size

China market poised to regain top position

Low-cost carriers eye pent-up demand

The first group of travellers from China receive a warm welcome upon their arrival at Suvarnabhumi airport. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
The first group of travellers from China receive a warm welcome upon their arrival at Suvarnabhumi airport. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Travellers from China are forecast to regain the top spot in terms of arrivals this year with no fewer than 5 million, while low-cost carriers from Thailand rush to secure China's routes to tap pent-up demand.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the resumption of the Chinese market could help increase employment in the tourism sector, while TAT will organise a roadshow in three key cities in China -- Guangzhou, Chengdu and Shanghai -- leading 60 tour operators from Thailand to promote the country's tourism.

The government made an abrupt U-turn on Monday by scrapping the requirement for vaccine certificates and random tests, requiring only health insurance for those coming from the countries that mandate negative Covid tests before returning, which include China and India.

Thanet Phetsuwan, TAT deputy governor of marketing for Asia and South Pacific, said the agency will meet the Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta) and the Indian-Thai Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday to discuss measures to facilitate tourists in case they tested positive before flying back.

He said average load factor for flights from China could reach 86%, while the number of tourists would rise when more flights are added.

TAT is also persuading airlines in China to fly directly to other cities, such as Chiang Mai and Phuket to avoid congestion at Suvarnabhumi airport, said Mr Thanet.

He said China's reopening this year might send this market back to No.1 in terms of arrivals this year, followed by Malaysia and India, which ranked first and second last year with 1.9 million and 965,994 tourists, respectively.

Chuwit Sirivejkul, TAT regional director of East Asia marketing, said that there are 15 daily flights and 20 daily flights from China on average in January and February, respectively.

Nuntaporn Komonsittivate, head of commercial operations at Thai Lion Air, said the airline submitted a request to resume five routes to China and the process might take until February or March to restart operations.

Meanwhile, Thai AirAsia, which previously served more than 13 routes to China, already requested resuming all of its flights.

Besides Bangkok, Phuket will also welcome daily flights connecting Shanghai from Juneyao Air from Jan 18.

Suksit Suvunditkul, president of the southern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association, said the number of direct flights and tourists from China remained relatively small compared to other countries.

Independent travellers booking trips via online platforms are expected to visit the island starting from next month.

Do you like the content of this article?