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Bangkok Post - TAT raises expectations for Chinese visitors this year
TAT raises expectations for Chinese visitors this year
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TAT raises expectations for Chinese visitors this year

Chinese tourists arrive at Suvarnbhumi airport in January. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Chinese tourists arrive at Suvarnbhumi airport in January. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The target for inbound Chinese tourists this year has been upgraded to 6-7 million from 5 million, with more than 250,000 of them scheduled to visit Thailand in April, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

Tanes Petsuwan, TAT deputy governor for Asia and the South Pacific, said the Chinese market has grown every month since the mainland lifted travel restrictions in January.

Chinese tourists are expected to tally more than 500,000 in the first quarter, exceeding earlier estimates of 300,000, largely driven by the resumption of flights between Thailand and China, which have recovered to 30% of pre-pandemic levels.

Mr Tanes said the number of foreign arrivals had almost reached 7 million, with the short-haul market accounting for 60%.

With the Songkran festival approaching, he expected about 250,000 Chinese tourists in April.

Regarding economic factors in Europe such as protests in France and Germany, as well as the slowdown of these markets during the second quarter, the TAT hopes to focus more on short-haul tourists to maintain the growth of international arrivals, said Mr Tanes.

The extension of eligible stays on tourist visas and visas on arrival, to 45 days and 30 days respectively, ends this month.

He said this should not cause an abrupt pause in tourist flows, particularly for the Chinese market, as they tended to stay for shorter periods.

The faster processing of visas on arrival at airports was also helping tourist flows, said Mr Tanes.

Speaking at the "Worldwide Online Platform" event on Monday, the TAT was joined by four large online travel agencies (OTAs) to launch promotional campaigns from April to August.

Each OTA is targeting different segments but aiming for the same target: attracting around 400,000 additional short-haul tourists to Thailand, generating more than 600 million baht from longer stays.

Agoda is aiming for tourists from Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, generating at least 150 million baht.

KKDay plans to promote Thailand's sustainable tourism projects during the Songkran festival in Bangkok and nearby destinations, hoping for 186,000 transactions.

Klook is targeting worldwide travellers via Thai soft power, especially millennials, with at least 500,000 bookings.

Alipay is partnering with more than 550,000 merchants in Thailand to tap the Chinese market, with a goal of 200 million baht in income.

Yuthasak Supasorn, the TAT governor, said online sales channels have played an important role in driving more foreign tourists to Thailand, especially since the pandemic.

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