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Thailand depending on Chinese travellers for tourist reboot

Jack Burton

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Thailand depending on Chinese travellers for tourist reboot | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The Phuket News

Thailand is looking to China to rebuild its battered travel industry. As the Covid-19 pandemic subsides in Asia, countries are discussing the idea of “travel bubbles,” in which reciprocal nations establish guidelines that enable their citizens to move freely across their borders. The wider tourism industry accounts for 18-20% of Thailand’s GDP and provides jobs for almost a tenth of Thais, according to the International Labour Organisation.

But with borders closed and planes grounded around the world, (Thailand has currently banned all passenger arrivals except Thai returnees and diplomats until at least June 30), this core of the Thai economy faces a very uncertain future. The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s best case scenario is that 14-16 million people will visit this year, more than the 8.5 million projected by the Thai Chamber of Commerce, but far fewer than last year’s record of 39.8 million, a figure that made it Southeast Asia’s most popular tourism destination. And yesterday a TAT spokesman made the nation’s position clear:

“China will remain Thailand’s and Asia’s biggest outbound tourist market.”

Chinese accounted for more than a quarter of tourists who visited Thailand last year, and their importance has been magnified by the Covid-19 pandemic. Long haul travel is not expected to rebound quickly, and Thailand’s tourism strategy is now focused on domestic travel and the short haul travellers who are most likely to return first – the Chinese.

With a population of 1.4 billion, the rising middle class now have the travel bug and have become the world’s most numerous tourist market in many destinations, especially around Asia.

Rebuilding this market is crucial not only to resurrecting Thailand’s economy, but also those of neighbouring nations like Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. The ability of these countries to refloat their own tourism industries depends largely on Thailand’s reopening, as the airports of Bangkok serve as a hub for the region. But it won’t be easy as Thailand faces increased competition from regional competitors like Vietnam and the Philippines, both of which were in the midst of their own tourism booms before the virus struck. It will also face competition from China itself, where the pandemic has boosted interest in domestic travel.

“We cannot leave it too late to prepare for Chinese arrivals. International competition for this market is bound to be intense.”

Complicating matters is the fact that wholesale group travel, previously the sector’s backbone, is unlikely to bounce back swiftly. A survey by industry consultancy C9 Hotelworks found that 71% of Chinese planning foreign travel in 2020 would consider travelling to Thailand, and 83% of that group said they would want to go as independent travellers. The consultancy also believes older travellers will be slower to return to the market, noting that more than 80% of those who responded to its survey were between the ages of 20 and 40.

But there was good news for Thailand. Half of those surveyed said they would spend 15,000 yuan (67,000 baht) per trip.

C9 managing director Bill Barnett says targeting those predisposed to travel is a good way to drum up business in a short period.

At this stage it is unlikely that any tourists are going anywhere soon as borders remain closed, travel bans are still in place, airlines remain grounded and financially reluctant or unable to ramp up international flights quickly. In Thailand the borders remain closed, except for Thai repatriates, until at least June 30. Even when they open it has not yet been announced the conditions on which foreigners will be able to travel to Thailand, which countries they will be accepted and the types of insurances required. The world’s discretionary income has also plummeted as the Covid-19 recession starts to bite.

But if anyone is likely to be the first wave of post-Covid tourists, it’s most probable to be from China.

SOURCE: SCMP

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Clyde James

    Sunday, May 24, 2020 at 4:10 pm

    This is very sad news for non-Chinese foreign nationals that are separated from their Thai families. Other countries, such as the USA, are allowing the foreign national spouse to enter along with their citizens as they are repatriated. There are thousands of ex-pats that are separated from their Thai families. Can’t something be done to help re-unite them!

  2. Avatar

    ex expat

    Monday, May 25, 2020 at 10:57 pm

    Clyde James Thailand wants to become an exclusive Chinese resort.
    What to do to expats in Thailand for the Chinese?It will be another Thailand. There will be no infrastructure for western foreigners. Better to take your family and leave Thailand than try to come to Chinaland;)The era of Western tourists in Thailand is over.

    • Avatar

      Marty

      Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 10:51 am

      Agree

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Quarantine for vaccinated travellers to be reduced to 7 days

The Thaiger

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Quarantine for vaccinated travellers to be reduced to 7 days | The Thaiger
Photo via Facebook/อนุทิน ชาญวีรกูล

The mandatory quarantine period for those who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus will be reduced from 14 days to 7 days, Thailand’s Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirankul said in a press conference. Those who have not been vaccinated, but have a medical certificate declaring that they are Covid-free, will be required to quarantine to 10 days, Anutin said, according to Reuters.

The health minister says vaccinations must be administered within 3 months of travelling to Thailand. Travellers must still show negative Covid-19 test results issued within 72 hours of their departure to Thailand. Those travelling from Africa must still quarantine for 14 days due to concerns about new variants of the coronavirus.

SOURCE: Reuters

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

CCSA Update: 71 new Covid-19 cases

The Thaiger

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CCSA Update: 71 new Covid-19 cases | The Thaiger
Deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Natapanu Nopakun / Photo courtesy of the Royal Thai Government

71 new Covid-19 cases were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. There are currently 579 active cases. Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported a total of 26,441 coronavirus cases in Thailand and 85 deaths.

“The numbers are getting better,” according to deputy spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Natapanu Nopakun, who gives the CCSA report in English. The daily active case count has remained between 500 to 600 cases for the past week, a much lower average than last month when mass testing campaigns were actively rolled out in high risk areas to help trace and contain the virus.

Out of the 71 cases, 41 were detected in hospitals, primarily in Samut Sakhon. 7 cases were detected in active case finding, including 6 in Samut Sakhon and 1 in Pathum Thani. The other 23 cases were detected in quarantine for those travelling to Thailand from overseas.

Recently, 2 beauty pageant contestants tested positive for Covid-19 while in quarantine after arriving in Thailand from overseas. Women from 63 countries travelled to Thailand to participate in a beauty pageant scheduled for later this month. Natapanu praised the health care workers for their effectiveness at detecting the virus at an early stage.

Over the weekend, the CCSA reported 65 new cases yesterday and 64 new cases on Saturday.

CCSA Update: 71 new Covid-19 cases | News by The Thaiger

CCSA Update: 71 new Covid-19 cases | News by The Thaiger

Daily active Covid-19 cases in Thailand as of 7 March 2021, according to Worldometers.

SOURCE: CCSA

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Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai hotels slash prices amid ongoing slump in tourism

Maya Taylor

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Chiang Mai hotels slash prices amid ongoing slump in tourism | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Rati Lanna Riverside Spa Resort

Hotels in the northern province of Chiang Mai have been forced to cut their rates by up to 90%, in a desperate bid to attract more domestic tourists. According to a Bangkok Post report, La-Iad Bungsrithong, from the northern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association, says with tourists mainly favouring the southern beach destinations this month, hotel operators in the north of the country are preparing for the forthcoming low season.

The resurgence of Covid-19 late last year meant that in December, only 1,000 Chiang Mai hotels, offering between 20,000 and 30,000 rooms, stayed open. This month, occupancy rates have plummeted to less than 3% and are not expected to rise beyond 5% during the Songkran holiday next month.

La-Iad says traditional target markets such as China are currently off-limits due to the Chinese government placing restrictions on citizens travelling out of the country.

“Even though vaccine distribution has started globally, the target markets for Chiang Mai such as China still cannot take outbound trips. Operators have to rely on the domestic market for the whole year.”

She adds that the Rati Lanna Riverside Spa Resort, of which she is general manager, has cut room rates to 1,500 baht a night, compared to the normal rate of 13,000 baht prior to the pandemic.

Hotels are also being forced to explore new ways of making money, with around 30 hotels – all 4 and 5 star properties – now offering a “drive-thru” food service. La-Iad says hotel operators are also calling on the Chiang Mai office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand to provide visitors to the province with a 500 baht coupon to be redeemed in hotel eateries. She says the authority also needs to do more to promote inter-provincial travel, in particular from the south and north-east of the country.

In 2019, Chiang Mai welcomed 11 million tourists, with 70% of them being Thai. By contrast, there were only 1 million in 2020. This year’s number is expected to be around 25% of the 2019 figure.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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