BANGKOK – Tourism operators are worried that the sharing of video clips showing improper Chinese tourist behaviour and criticism of them on social media may harm long-standing ties between Thailand and China.
The viral clips and comments are considerably shaping the image of Chinese tourists among Thais.
Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said all tourism-related parties were fretting over the issue, the Bangkok Post reported.
The TAT has asked the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) to tackle the problem by explaining do’s and don’ts to Chinese tourists.
“We have to educate them about what they can and cannot do when visiting Thailand,” Mr Yuthasak said. “Negative comments posted on social media may cause a big problem.”
China is now the biggest source of tourists for Thailand and many other countries. Last year, China’s outbound tourism grew by 20% to 139 million trips.
Depending on the Chinese market is necessary now that the Thai economy is weak. If Chinese tourists disappear due to negative remarks by Thais, Thailand will be in trouble because it will lose a major source of income, said Supawan Tanomkleatpume, president of the Thai Hotels Association.
She is confident that Chinese tourists’ behaviour will improve significantly soon.
“They won’t buy overpriced stuff offered by travel agents. They will know more about good manners and then behave well. We will see an improvement within the next five years,” she said.
China has been the biggest market for Thai tourism since 2012. Last year, Thailand welcomed 7.9 million Chinese tourists — 27% of the total 29.8 million foreign arrivals.
Chinese travellers’ spending per head was 6,400 baht per day, higher than the average tourist spending of 5,690 baht.
Chinese arrivals grew 33% to 1.77 million in the first two months of the year. The government has set a high target of welcoming 10 million Chinese visitors this year, up by 26.5%.
The Chinese government has acknowledged the improper behaviour of many Chinese tourists and is trying to solve the issue, but says it will take time.
Issues with Chinese tourists may reflect that Thailand lacks good tourism management and Thai people have yet to understand visitors, said Srisuda Wanapinyosak, the TAT’s deputy governor for international marketing (Asia and the South Pacific).