Destinations Asia

Thailand tourism looks to China for its next big growth spurt

Nov 15, 2012 12:42 am

Skift Take

Not only are visits by Chinese travelers on the rise, the speed with which they spend money easily makes them one of the more coveted demographics.

— Jason Clampet

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Mikhail Koninin  / Flickr.com

A longboat on a beach in Krabi, Thailand. Mikhail Koninin / Flickr.com


All indications are that Chinese tourists are a powerful force to be reckoned with for Thailand’s tourism industry.

Take no-frills Thai AirAsia (TAA) flights between the two countries for example.

A third of all passengers on board in the first eight months of this year were Chinese, while flights between these countries recorded a high average load factors of 85%, TAA chief executive Tassapon Bijleveld said yesterday.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) data show Chinese arrivals in the first nine months totalled 1.94 million, up by 39% year-on-year.

Figures tabulated by Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) for Suvarnabhumi airport show 2.8 million Chinese passing through Thailand’s main air hub, both arriving and leaving, in the first nine months.

Jamnong Junnapiya, the TAT’s director for East Asia, said the rapid pace means there is no reason not to believe that Chinese tourists will exceed 2.2 million for the entire year against 2 million targeted.

China tops Thailand’s leisure market list, with 1.76 million Chinese travellers recorded last year or 9.26% of international tourist arrivals, she said.

TAT and AoT executives yesterday underscored the growing importance of Chinese travellers to Thailand’s tourism industry as they joined forces to attract Chinese in even larger numbers in the years to come.

“Thailand is a popular destination among Chinese group tours and independent travellers throughout the year due to the country’s travel highlights and investment opportunities,” said Ms Jamnong

The China National Tourism Administration said the number of Chinese citizens travelling abroad soared by 323% over a 10-year period, from 16.6 million in 2002 to 70.3 million last year.

The UN World Tourism Organization projects the number of Chinese residents travelling abroad will surpass 100 million annually by 2020.

The country’s citizens are also one of the world’s top spenders when travelling abroad.

Chinese nationals spend an average of US$874 on shopping per foreign trip, the highest for Asia, according to a recent survey by Travelzoo Inc, the US-based global Internet media company covering travel and entertainment.

TAA plans more routes connecting Thailand with China, which the airline’s chief executive called “the most rapidly developing and important tourism market”.

The low-cost carrier will take delivery of six more A320 jetliners next year.

(c)2012 the Bangkok Post (Bangkok, Thailand). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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