TAT: Tepid growth for Chinese New Year
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TAT: Tepid growth for Chinese New Year

TAT: Tepid growth for Chinese New Year
A performer dances during Chinese New Year Festival 2020 at Krungthai Bank's Yaowarat Road branch. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Thailand expects slow growth of foreign tourist arrivals during Chinese New Year, according to a Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) forecast.

During the Chinese New Year festival from Jan 24 to 30 this year, some 1.01 million foreigners are forecast to visit the country, up 1.5% from the seven-day festival last year.

The outlook for revenue is 21.7 billion baht, growth of 1.6%.

For Chinese markets, the TAT expects to welcome 312,000 visitors with estimated revenue of 8.4 billion baht, both increases of 2%.

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said growth will be limited because the continuing trade war with the US has weakened the yuan, while the baht remains strong.

The study noted that some Chinese travellers may look for destinations that give them better value.

A study by the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute found that at least 7 million Chinese travellers will celebrate by taking New Year trips abroad, up 11% from last year.

Growth of Chinese visitors to Thailand will not keep pace with overall outbound Chinese travellers during the festival, the study said.

One positive factor for Chinese tourists is the waiver of visa-on-arrival fees until April 30, Mr Yuthasak said.

He said tourism-related agencies are preparing new stimulus schemes to propose to the economic cabinet on Jan 31, but they have not come to an agreement.

Models at a press conference on the Chinese New Year Festival 2020, held at Krung Thai Bank, Yaowaraj branch yesterday. A million foreigners are expected to visit the country during the festive event. Varuth Hirunyatheb

The package aims to boost the international market and help offset the effects from the baht's rise on the tourism segment.

Possible measures include visa-free entry for two major tourist groups, Chinese and Indians.

Apart from visa policy, the government stakeholders are discussing a wide range of measures such as plans to increase safety and security confidence.

Mr Yuthasak said competition in the tourism arena is intense, as many countries would like to attract higher volume from potential markets.

For example, Malaysia's government recently approved 15-day visa-free travel for Chinese and Indian visitors throughout 2020.

Thailand is also on alert from the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, central China, which has prompted China's Public Health Ministry and local health officials to monitor the situation thoroughly.

The World Health Organization has said agencies in Thailand have to monitor the new coronavirus closely because of the influx of Chinese tourists during Chinese New Year celebrations, after the first coronavirus-infected Chinese person outside the mainland was diagnosed in Thailand.

The TAT is set to host Chinese New Year events in several provinces, including Ratchaburi, Suphan Buri, Chon Buri, Nakhon Sawan, Chiang Mai, Udon Thani, Songkhla and Phuket.

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