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Chinese travellers forced to stay home as rest of Asia re-opens to tourism

Maya Taylor

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Chinese tourists enjoying Thailand in pre-pandemic times. PHOTO: Flickr/Shankar S.

With Asian countries re-opening to foreign arrivals, there will be one significant tourism market missing for now – the Chinese. In China, according to a Reuters report, international air travel is currently at just 2% of pre-pandemic levels, as officials continue to pursue zero-Covid status. The absence of Chinese visitors will mean a US$255 billion annual spending hole in the global tourism market.

According to the Reuters report, Chinese tourists accounted for 25% – 30% of business at Phuket’s Laguna resorts prior to the pandemic. Managing director Ravi Chandran says they’re now focusing their attention on the European, US, and Middle Eastern markets.

“Up to today, we have not done significant marketing or promotion in China, because we don’t feel anything coming our way.”

Thailand’s tourism sector has been decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic, with many businesses gone forever and others struggling to bounce back. Overall, Thailand has lost around US$50 billion a year in tourism revenue. While tourism officials hope that foreign arrivals will total around 180,000 this year, that’s a far cry from the 40 million Thailand welcomed in 2019.

China watchers predict the country will keep its strict 21-day quarantine for returning residents until at least the second quarter of 2022. When the country does re-open, it’s expected to do so very gradually and Wolfgang Georg Arlt from the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute predicts the outbound travel market won’t be the same.

“The market will have changed so the Chinese people travelling in 2022 will be different from the Chinese travelling in 2019. I think the trends will go away from this shopping and rushing around.”

Sienna Parulis-Cook from travel marketing firm Dragon Tail International agrees, believing large tour groups could be a thing of the past.

“You might have organised travel and everything but it would be with a small group of people that you know, rather than 50 strangers on a tour bus.”

For more information on how to get into Thailand during the pandemic, CLICK HERE.

SOURCE: Reuters

 

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