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Chinese tourists coming back to Thailand in big numbers

Chinese tourists grand palace Bangkok
Chinese tourists grand palace Bangkok

“He expects Chinese to be the top foreign tourists in Phuket in April…”

The Tourism Authority of Thailand is addressing concerns over the monopolisation of foreign tourism businesses and zero-dollar tours, saying that “they are not a concern” as long as strict law enforcement and collaboration with Beijing continues.

The TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn says that his office in China will continue to monitor these issues and ensure that only Chinese tour companies certified by the Chinese government are allowed to send tour groups to Thailand.

Zero-dollar tourism is where a package is bought in the home country, including air fares, food and accommodation organised through foreign-owned companies and then visits to high-commission-paying shops and tours.

Yuthasak says the TAT’s aim is to target high-value tourists over volume. This year, the TAT is promoting Thailand as an all-year-round destination to maintain occupancy rates at a desirable level. According to the TAT, flight numbers in the summer slot nationwide until October have increased, with Chinese flights alone gaining more than 16,000.

In March the most numerous arrivals in Phuket were from Russia and China.

Despite the increase in Chinese flights, Phuket has not yet seen zero-dollar tours say Yuthasak. However, Chinese tourists are gradually increasing and now stand among the top 10 sources of tourists in Phuket since the beginning of the year (number 2 in March).

Suksit Suvunditkul, president of the southern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association, suggests that Thailand focuses on attracting quality tourists and positions itself accordingly. He expects Chinese to be the top foreign tourists in Phuket in April, with India following closely behind, while long-haul markets such as Russia remain in a slowdown.

Although the THA has not yet seen restaurants or accommodation that focus solely on the Chinese market back in operation, the issue should be monitored closely over the next 3-4 months when Chinese tour groups are expected to surge. Mr Suksit suggested that Thailand focuses on attracting quality tourists and positions itself accordingly.

Mr Suksit said he hoped the government would help maintain electricity fees at a low level as the rate, which rose by 20-30% since last year, has taken a heavy toll on hotels, most of which just started to recover in the latest winter high season.

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