Despite launching a visa-free program to lure Chinese tourists, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has reduced its target to 3.5 million visitors from China. It has now employed Influencers from China to help bolster tourism numbers.
Thailand’s tourism industry is confronting tremendous competition from other countries that also grant visa exemptions to Chinese travelers, despite the fact that Thailand still has the highest market share from the mainland, and spending per trip has increased.
Many other countries, like Kazakhstan, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka, grant visa exemptions to Chinese tourists, but Thailand remains the most popular international destination for Chinese tourists.
Thailand retains an advantage due to its diversified tourism assets, which include nature, historical attractions, and beaches.
The visa-free program is expected to gain traction over the coming year, as flight traffic rises despite lower-than-forecast travel demand.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) would prioritize luring new flights connecting China’s second-tier cities to Thailand’s provincial airports such as Krabi, Chiang Mai, and Phuket.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor, Thapanee Kiatphaibool, stated that while officials reduced their objective to 3.5 million Chinese arrivals this year, the agency recorded higher expenditure per trip from pre-pandemic levels, at 58,000-60,000 baht.
Chinese Tourists Staying in China
Domestic travel incentives within China are a big problem in the Chinese market, as Beijing continues to offer programs to stimulate the stagnant economy.
The government intends to use Chinese social-media influencers and corporations such as Huawei Technologies and Alipay to market the country as a tourism destination in an effort to more than increase the number of visitors from the country’s greatest source of visitors prior to the outbreak.
Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, a deputy governor, announced at a press conference in Bangkok that the Tourism Authority of Thailand will welcome producers on ByteDance’s Douyin platform to create travel content and invite media and travel agencies to tour the nation to attract prospective visitors.
Thailand’s Tourism Authority inked a deal on Thursday with Fliggy, a prominent Chinese travel platform owned by Alibaba Group, to jointly market the nation as safe to visit.
According to Mr Chattan, it would also launch promotions with Huawei, Meituan, Spring Airlines, and Sina News.
Thailand’s Visa Waivers
Tourism is a “quick win” for Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin in terms of accelerating the nation’s economic growth, accounting for around 12% of GDP and nearly a fifth of jobs.
In addition, the government has temporarily waived visas for visitors from Russia, Kazakhstan, India, and Taiwan, and has directed airlines to establish new routes while simplifying airport operations to cut visitor wait times.
According to Mr Chattan, the share of independent travelers increased to 86% in the first half of 2023, up from 61% in 2019, while the average length of stay increased to 7.9 days from 7.5 days.
Thailand secured the most Chinese tourists in the first half of 2023, accounting for 3.3% of outbound visitors. This data, however, did not include Hong Kong and Macau, which accounted for 78% of mainland Chinese visitors.
Japan and Singapore increased their market share by 2.5% and 1.8%, respectively.
Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Chon Buri, Krabi, Phangnga, Surat Thani, Nong Khai, Prachuap Khiri Khan, and Satun were the top ten most popular places in Thailand.
Meanwhile, Chuwit Sirivejkul, TAT’s regional marketing director for East Asia, stated that recent news reports about Chinese street beggars and the shooting incident at Siam Paragon have influenced travel sentiment among Chinese people who have never visited Thailand, the majority of whom live in second- or third-tier cities.
Mr Chattan stated that the agency would focus on driving demand by relaxing travel restrictions, focusing on high-spending tourists, and extending visitor duration of stay across all markets.
He stated that numerous airlines are preparing to offer more flights beginning early next year, including Spring Airlines, which aims to run 74 flights per week between Thailand and China beginning in December, up from 52 currently.