Chinese tourist spending projected to soar

Chinese tourist spending projected to soar

New Year holiday to draw visitors

Locals and tourists stroll in Bangkok's Chinatown, which is known for its street food options in the evening.  Apichart Jinakul
Locals and tourists stroll in Bangkok's Chinatown, which is known for its street food options in the evening.  Apichart Jinakul

Tourism spending during the Chinese New Year holiday is forecast to reach 34.4 billion baht, of which 28.4 billion is expected from foreign visitors, especially those from Chinese-speaking countries.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) forecast revenue growth of 29% year-on-year for the holiday spanning Feb 8-16, mainly driven by the visa-free policy for Chinese and Taiwanese travellers.

TAT governor Thapanee Kiatphaibool said foreign visitors should tally 995,000, an increase of 34%, generating 28.4 billion baht, up 36% from the corresponding period last year.

Chinese arrivals are estimated at 177,000, growth of 358% from 2023 when the country had recently reopened its borders and there was limited seat capacity and pricey airfares.

Ms Thapanee said Chinese spending this year is projected to rise by 366% to 6.2 billion baht.

Thai travellers are forecast to make 2 million trips during the festival, generating 6 billion baht in revenue, growth of 10% and 6% respectively year-on-year.

The Tourism and Sports Ministry predicted China, Taiwan and Hong Kong would spend a combined 11 billion baht here during the holiday, a gain of 157%, with 195,825 arrivals as airline seat capacity expands.

The ministry expects expenditure per person from these markets to increase by 8% to 58,236 baht compared with 2023, but soaring 25% from 2019.

The uptick was attributed to individual travellers booking more expensive hotels.

However, overall receipts from the three markets are forecast to be 30% less than the holiday in 2019, based on arrivals from China and Hong Kong being 50% and 22% weaker, respectively.

Based on the survey, the Taiwanese market is the only one projected for an increase in arrivals, at 11%.

Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta), said Chinese market sentiment is picking up, while negative news about safety in Thailand is not circulating as widely on Chinese social media as last year.

The main concerns for the Chinese market are frequent road and boat accidents, particularly in the South, attributed to severe weather conditions and human error, he said.

"News about boat accidents that affected tourists could spread rapidly. Sometimes tourists hear about the news before us, as they raise concerns about their upcoming trips," said Mr Sisdivachr.

He said Atta previously asked the Tourism Department to help enforce more stringent safety measures for tour operators using boats.

The department told the association provincial authorities are responsible for this issue and have the full authority to regulate safety services.

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