BANGKOK, THAILAND: The Chinese government has announced tour groups can be organised to 19 destinations, including Thailand starting 6 February 2023.

It follows the withdrawal of Covid-19-related travel restrictions for individual Chinese travellers allowing them to travel freely to destinations worldwide as of 8 January 2023.

Thailand is on the list of 19 destinations that can now welcome back tour groups.

Thailand welcomed 11 million Chinese travellers in 2019, more than a quarter of its total arrivals. But what does the return of Chinese visitors mean for hotel operators in the “Land of Smiles”? 

Centara Hotels & Resorts, corporate vice president of sales Jurairat Mongkolwongsiri noted that the Thai-owned hotel group has already started receiving inquiries for FIT and group bookings in major destinations such as Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Koh Samui and Chiang Mai.

 Initially, the priority period was Chinese New Year and our Phuket properties, for example, are already full. We have started to receive inquiries for inspections of our Bangkok properties, and Chinese airline crews are confirmed to stay at our hotel in Chiang Mai.”

Airlift is a key issue. Before 2020, Chinese travellers could choose from 28 airlines operating on multiple routes between Thailand and China, covering 44 airports and offering 17 million seats. But airline services ended for two years during the pandemic and are only starting to resume. Earlier this month, Spring Airlines said it would resume flights from Shanghai to Phuket and from Guangzhou to Chiang Mai in January while increasing frequencies from Shanghai to Bangkok. Juneyao Air is also resuming its service between Shanghai and Chiang Mai.

Once flights are reinstated, Thailand will likely be one of the main beneficiaries of the great Chinese reopening that will get underway when tour groups return to Thailand next month.

Centara’s Jurairat urges a coordinated approach between all the relevant parties to ensure a smooth and stable recovery.

“The outlook for the tourism sector indeed remains uncertain, but we are optimistic about it. It requires global cooperation and evidence-based solutions to lift travel restrictions safely. With the opening of China’s borders, we can see that coordinated action across governments at all levels and the private sector is essential to help international tourism resume,” she concluded.

For more information about travelling in Thailand, please visit Centara Hotels & Resorts.

(Your Stories: Centara Hotels & Resorts)