Chinese arrivals up in October
Visa waiver, Golden Week provide fillip
Confidence among Chinese tourists visiting Thailand has recovered thanks to the visa waiver and their country's long Golden Week holiday, with arrivals up by 67% year-on-year last month.
Chinese tourists get their pictures taken on Koh Khai during a day’s excursion from Phuket. Arrivals in Thailand from China rose by 67% year-on-year in October, but the full-year figure is still expected to be down from 2013. CHAMLONG BOONSONG
Arrivals from the biggest market for Thai tourism reached 501,043 in October compared with 299,982 in the same month last year.
Chinese tourists accounted for 23% of total visitors to Thailand.
The figure showed the confidence recovery and the effectiveness of the visa waiver from Aug 1 to Oct 31 for Chinese tourists.
Both the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) are confident Chinese tourist arrivals in the final two months of this year will be higher than the 588,650 recorded in the same period last year.
ATTA president Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn said total arrivals from China should stand at 4.3 million this year, down from 4.7 million last year.
In the first 10 months, arrivals dropped by 11% to 3.6 million.
The TAT and ATTA agree the tourism trend will be positive in 2015, especially from the China market.
They expect Thailand will welcome at least 5 million Chinese visitors next year.
Although the overall economic situation in China is projected to slow next year, the agencies are confident that travel demand from secondary cities in China remains strong.
Thailand is an affordable tourism destination, so it should be attractive for Chinese tourists.
Srisuda Wananpinyosak, executive director for East Asia, said the TAT had seriously focused on secondary cities in China such as Chongqing and Nanning by promoting major destinations such as Bangkok, Pattaya and Chiang Mai.
Meanwhile, the TAT has maintained the target group in main cities including Bejing, Shanghai and Guangzhou by promoting new destinations such as Lampang and Samut Songkhram.
Ms Srisuda said the incentives market was interesting as well.
The TAT will try to persuade middle- and high-end meetings and incentives organisers to hold events in Thailand.
"Promoting new destinations for this exciting market will help to increase the average length of stay and spending per head in China," said Ms Srisuda.
The average length of stay for Chinese tourists is eight days with spending per trip of 40,800 baht.
ATTA plans to introduce Cha-am and Hua Hin to Chinese travellers next year.
The Asia Pacific Visitor Forecasts 2014-2018 report by the Pacific Asia Travel Association said the number of outbound Chinese tourists to Asia-Pacific would rise to 110 million next year from 94.8 million this year.