Tourism operators in Thailand are ready to welcome the return of Chinese tour groups, after Beijing lifted restrictions on the outbound group tour market. Under the new rules, Chinese tourists will be allowed to travel to Thailand and 19 other countries.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand is forecasting 5 million Chinese arrivals in the kingdom this year. Thailand welcomed 11 million Chinese guests in 2019, the last year of “normal” travel prior to the Covid-19 pandemic hitting. That year, Chinese tourists generated 531 billion baht in revenue, according to a Thai PBS World report.
Responding to concerns about a surge in Covid infections in China since Beijing abruptly abandoned its “zero-Covid” policy, Thai officials say they’re confident in the kingdom’s ability to control the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, tourism operators say it’s important to keep the focus on diversity of tourists as opposed to relying on one group over all others. Speaking at the “Thailand Tourism Forum 2023: Innovation in Hospitality”, the executive director of Proud Real Estate says she expects the number of Chinese visitors to surge in the second half of 2023.
Proudputh Liptapanlop says the slow return of the Chinese means her company has turned to other markets, including the Russians and the Middle East.
“Although the Chinese are returning, it is vital that we maintain diversity. We must not neglect our new markets, especially the Russians which have exceeded our target.”
Ho Ren Yung, a senior vice-president at the Banyan Tree Group, agrees.
“Before the pandemic, one-third of the Banyan Tree’s guests were Chinese. We are anticipating rising bookings in February as the Chinese tourists return. But we will certainly retain our guest diversity.”
SOURCE: Thai PBS World