Influx seen boosting economy

Influx seen boosting economy

A couple poses for a selfie in Bangkok's Chinatown during the Chinese New Year celebrations earlier this month. During the celebrations that ended on Feb 16, Chinese tourists' overseas spending at all destinations via Alipay rose by over 140% from last year's Chinese New Year. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
A couple poses for a selfie in Bangkok's Chinatown during the Chinese New Year celebrations earlier this month. During the celebrations that ended on Feb 16, Chinese tourists' overseas spending at all destinations via Alipay rose by over 140% from last year's Chinese New Year. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

Thailand's tourism upturn should get a boost from China's launch of measures to boost its economy, with more Chinese travellers expected to arrive in Thailand to drive the Thai economy to growth of at least 3% this year, analysts say.

Asia Plus Securities (ASPS) said China's economic stimulus measures should improve the economies of both China and Thailand and boost the number of Chinese visitors.

Beijing recently launched a series of measures to boost the mainland's economy, said the brokerage. Last week, the People's Bank of China cut its five-year loan prime rate by 0.25% to 3.95% to support the troubled property sector. Hainan province also reduced the down payment requirement for first homes from 25% to 20%.

In addition, the China Securities Regulatory Commission will present some new policies aimed at stabilising the stock market following a public hearing. As a result, Chinese stock markets are in the spotlight and are enjoying robust fund inflows.

"China has started to use economic stimulus measures, so its economy is projected to improve and its stock markets should rebound," the brokerage said in its research note.

The Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism reported that there were 474 million domestic trips during the eight-day Lunar New Year festival that ended on Feb 17, growing 19% from the 2019 Lunar New Year, with tourism spending totalling 633 billion yuan, up 8% from 2019.

"China's consumption is recovering, which will support economic recovery. This should also boost Thailand's economy, since China is Thailand's largest trading partner and more Chinese tourists will visit Thailand," said ASPS.

As Thailand will also introduce more economic stimulus measures, the country's 2024 GDP growth rate is expected to reach 2.5-3.0%, it added.

A research study by Maybank, the Malaysian-based investment banking group, acknowledged that despite muted economic growth within China, the Chinese tourism market appears to have shaken off reservations about travel to Thailand, thanks to visa waivers and the resumption of flights between the mainland and Thailand to 90% of pre-pandemic levels during China's eight-day Lunar New Year holiday.

During the break that ended on Feb 16, Chinese tourists' overseas spending in all destinations via Alipay rose by over 140% from last year's Chinese New Year. In Southeast Asian destinations, the increase was more than 580%, led by Thailand, followed by Malaysia and Singapore, all three of which recently waived visa requirements for Chinese tourists.

"In 2024, although spending per visitor may be slower to recover, there is a likelihood that the resurgence in enthusiasm from visitors from the mainland could deliver an upside surprise for Thai tourism, which accounts for 20% of GDP if indirect spillovers are included," it noted.

Maybank has therefore maintained Thailand's 2024 GDP growth forecast at 3.2% on the tourism upturn and a recovery in investment, it added.

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