Thailand sees 1 million Chinese tourists from January to May 18

Chinese tourists arriving in Phuket, photo by The Phuket Express.

Between January and May 18, Thailand welcomed 1 million Chinese tourists, following China’s border reopening, a government official reported. The Thai government is optimistic about achieving its target of five million Chinese visitors this year, with an expected spending of 446 billion baht.

Government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri announced in a statement that the number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand has significantly increased compared to last year. Last year, approximately 274,000 Chinese tourists visited the country, a stark contrast to the 11 million who arrived in 2019, prior to the pandemic, accounting for about 28% of the total.

Foreign tourist arrivals in Thailand reached 9.47 million from January to mid-May, according to earlier government reports. This figure compares to the 11.15 million visitors throughout the entirety of 2022.

Thailand’s economy, the second-largest in Southeast Asia, experienced faster-than-anticipated growth in the first quarter, Reuters reported. This growth was primarily driven by the resurgence of the vital tourism sector, which is a significant source of employment and had been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last week, it was reported that the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) aims to attract five million Chinese tourists this year, with around 70% expected to be independent travellers with high purchasing power.

However, there are challenges, such as a limited quota of 84,000 visa applications per month for Chinese tourists until the end of September, which primarily affects larger tour groups. TAT is still hoping to attract more Chinese tourists between June and September during school holidays, said Chuwit Sirivejkul, TAT regional director of marketing for East Asia.

The Consular Affairs Department planned to issue visas to tourists within 15 days and adjust capacity to receive more applications in the next fiscal year, starting in October. Additionally, the number of flights between Thailand and China was set to rebound to over 70% of the level recorded in 2019, according to Tanes Petsuwan, TAT deputy governor for Asia and the South Pacific.

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