Year of the Dog boost for tourism

BANGKOK, 14 February 2018: Just over 300,000 Chinese tourists will visit Thailand to celebrate Chinese New Year, the Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports announced earlier this week.

Basing its estimates on flights and booking trends, 15 to 21 February, the ministry said 888,472 foreigners would visit the country of which 304,192 would be Chinese tourists, up by around 20% when compared with the Chinese New Year week in 2017.

During the Chinese New Year holiday, 20,677 flights will serve routes between China and Thailand, an increase of 6% over last year’s festive season.

The increase is driven by new flights that originate in second tier two cities in China and fly package tour groups to secondary cities in Thailand.

Minister of Tourism and Sports, Weerasak Kowsurat, says he wants to reduce the concentration of tourists visiting popular destinations such as Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket.

Around 90% of all Chinese tourists continue to travel to Bangkok, Chonburi (Pattaya), Phuket and Chiang Mai, with just 10% visiting secondary destinations such as Chiang Rai, and Samui.

Government departments including the Immigration Bureau have recruited volunteers to provide information to Chinese travellers at airports including interpreters to process visas-on-arrival, VAT refunds, while security has been beefed up with patrols and checks on water transport.

The visa-on-arrival counters at airports will be crowded this week with long-delays for thousands of Chinese tourists, who did not gain a visa before they left home. There have been calls to replace the cumbersome visa-on-arrival with a practical online e-visa, prepaid by a credit card. Myanmar has the most practical and user-friendly online visa service of all the ASEAN neighbours, while Thailand has lagged behind its neighbours. An  e-visa would cut costs, be more user friendly, still give immigration officials the opportunity to check blacklists and reduce queues and congestion at airports.

During the week 15 to 21 February tourism receipts on the estimated 888,472 foreign tourist visits could reach around THB48,452 million. Of that total, 304,192 Chinese visitors should generate earnings of THB15,978 million.