There’s a wrinkle that’s being felt across Thailand’s tourism sector, from the 5 star resort in Patong beach, to the airports that bring travellers into the country into the first place; the number of Chinese tourists visiting dropped.
This is problematic as Chinese tourism into the country accounts for one of the its most lucrative markets; accounting for about 20% of its economy, which is why the 11.8% drop in visitors in August 2018 was felt bad.
The cause for the drop in visitors is the recent boating incident that transpired off the coast of Phuket earlier in July of 2018, where a tourist boat capsized, resulting in a mass cancellation of trips by Chinese tourists, estimated to sit at around 600,000. According to the Thai Tourism and Sports Ministry, that amounts to a potential loss of about Bt37b (US$1.121b) in revenue for the tourism industry.
On top of that, the US-China trade war that has been going on not only made people leery of travelling abroad, but also upped the costs of doing so.
Officials, however, believe that the target of 38m visitors for 2018 can still be reached, with the Tourism Authority of Thailand predicting an end of year surge which they expect will lead to an season return of Chinese travellers around November and December, attributed to the countries’ long-standing bilateral relationship.
To that end, the TAT has revealed a series of promotions for the high season return of Chinese tourists, along with ongoing activities as well as long-term plans to restore the interest of the Chinese tourism market in Thailand.
According to TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn, the immediate plan is to first restore the confidence of Chinese tourists, which is why they are working with tourism operators in the country to ensure that their operations, tour programmes and services meet up with the strict safety guidelines that have been put in place, checking every 5 star resort in Patong, every yacht chartering service, etc.
Supasorn believes that the strong ties between China and Thailand reflects their strong bilateral relationship, and that TAT’s ongoing efforts, which include the ‘Friendship Caravan’ series organised alongside China’s Ministry of Culture and the Chinese Embassy.