Thailand anticipates Chinese tourism boost with visa-free scheme in 2024

Image Credit Asia Aviation PLC.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) indicated that the revival of charter flights and large Chinese tourism groups could occur by the first quarter of 2024. This projected resurgence comes despite the forthcoming implementation of a visa-free scheme set to kick off this month.

A preparation phase will span the final quarter of 2023 with charter flights beginning to cater to tour groups from December onwards.

Tanes Petsuwan, TAT’s deputy governor for Asia and the South Pacific, disclosed that the current number of charter flights is somewhat restricted. However, he anticipates the visa-free scheme will spike tour group demand via charter flights by 20-30%. Charter flights, which typically ferry tour groups from areas without regular flights, are expected to increase in volume during the early months of next year.

In an effort to escalate the number of charter flights and large tour groups to Thailand, Petsuwan said the TAT will collaborate with tour companies in secondary cities.

“The majority of inbound Chinese today are independent tourists.”

Thapanee Kiatphaibool, TAT’s governor, expressed optimism about reaching the target of 5 million Chinese tourists, set earlier this year. This optimism is driven by the visa-free scheme, which could potentially coax over 700,000 arrivals per month. As of September 17, Chinese visitors to Thailand stood at 2.34 million.

Thai tourism in China

According to Kiatphaibool, this market is predicted to generate 270-300 billion baht within this year. She also stated that TAT will be promoting Thai tourism in China through campaigns, events in primary and secondary destinations, and gastronomic tourism, in line with the policies of Tourism Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol.

Furthermore, flight frequency between China and Thailand has been boosted to 96 flights per day, up from 72 flights, as per Wangsuphakijkosol. The government is placing a strong emphasis on tourist safety, providing a 24-hour police tourist service to enhance confidence in safety measures.

On Monday, a welcoming ceremony was held for 341 passengers from Shanghai, courtesy of Thai AirAsia X. Attended by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, the tourism minister and other key figures in the tourism industry, the ceremony took place on the first day of the visa-free policy at Suvarnabhumi airport.

Tassapon Bijleveld, director of Thai AirAsia X, reported a load factor for this flight hitting 98%, a rise directly attributable to the visa exemption. Bijleveld speculated that the estimated load factor of all airlines serving Chinese routes would reach at least 90% during the five months of the visa-free scheme concluding on February 29, 2024.

Thai AirAsia X will be ramping up operations between Shanghai and Bangkok from four flights a week to daily flights by the end of the year. Additionally, the airline plans to launch the Beijing-Bangkok route with four weekly flights.

The president of the Thai Hotel Association (THA), Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, highlighted that hotel bookings from Chinese guests have risen by 10-20%.

The Chinese ambassador estimates that there will be around 100 million outbound Chinese this year The current number already stands at 40 million.

The THA is confident that Thailand can reach its goal of five million tourists if it can augment seat capacity for the remainder of the year, reported Bangkok Post.

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Alex Morgan

Alex is a 42-year-old former corporate executive and business consultant with a degree in business administration. Boasting over 15 years of experience working in various industries, including technology, finance, and marketing, Alex has acquired in-depth knowledge about business strategies, management principles, and market trends. In recent years, Alex has transitioned into writing business articles and providing expert commentary on business-related issues. Fluent in English and proficient in data analysis, Alex strives to deliver well-researched and insightful content to readers, combining practical experience with a keen analytical eye to offer valuable perspectives on the ever-evolving business landscape.

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