Businesses owners on Phuket Island are eagerly anticipating the long-awaited arrival of Chinese tourists in the hopes that China’s reopening and the removal of its stringent travel restrictions will help to restore their ailing enterprises.
Before the pandemic, Chinese tourists, who formerly accounted for a quarter of a trillion dollars in yearly global travel spending, made up about a third of Thailand’s visitors.
Watersports businesses, which offer paragliding, water skiing, and other activities, suffered heavy losses during the pandemic, when strict entry conditions and long mandatory quarantine periods kept visitors at bay.
Thailand is expecting at least five million Chinese tourist arrivals this year
With tourism picking up widely in the region from pent up demand and the end of most travel curbs, Asia’s holiday hotspots are welcoming the return of Chinese tourists, who are celebrating the Lunar New Year.
The government is expecting at least five million Chinese tourist arrivals this year, with 300,000 in the first quarter.
Given that Phuket generally draws a fifth of all visitors to Thailand each year, the island is anticipating a much-needed financial boost from the inflow of Chinese tourists.
With its economy almost entirely dependent on tourism, many Phuket businesses were crippled by the pandemic.
More to come with resumption of group travel to Thailand
China will allow the resumption of overseas group tours to 20 countries, including Thailand, from February 6.
The Chinese authorities have given their approval for group tours and “flight + hotel” services in 20 countries. In addition to Thailand, these are Indonesia, Cambodia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Russia, Switzerland, Hungary, New Zealand, Fiji, Cuba and Argentina.
As much as 7-8 million expected for the whole year
Chinese tourist arrivals are expected to start rising sharply in the second quarter of this year and could reach 7-8 million for the whole year.
According to a recent study by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, this could raise the overall number of foreign immigrants to between 26 and 27 million.
In 2019, Thailand welcomed 11.5 million Chinese visitors out of a total of 39 million international arrivals, of which about 4.3 million were from group travel. Tourism receipts from Chinese travelers represented 531 billion bahts in 2019, a significant part of the 1.9 trillion total.
Sources : National News Bureau : http://thainews.prd.go.th, China allows resumption of group travel to Thailand – Thai News (thailand-business-news.com)