Chiang Mai is concerned about the lack of Chinese-speaking tour guides to serve tourists after China announced it is relaxing its Covid-19 restrictions and reopening its borders.
China announced on Monday, December 26, that the country will relax its Covid restrictions on January 8 for inbound visitors. The mainland is to drop its quarantine measures and only requires a negative Covid test result 48 hours before departure from their respective countries.
China’s National Health Commission added that Chinese citizens will be allowed to travel out of the country very soon.
This is good news for Thailand, especially Chiang Mai province, which is one of the top destinations for Chinese tourists. Chinese tourists are expected to arrive at the end of January for their traditional Spring Festival, also known as Chinese New Year.
Preparations in Chiang Mai are already underway to welcome visitors from the mainland by recruiting Chinese-speaking tour guides in the province.
The vice president of the Professional Tourist Guides Association of northern Thailand, Sihadate Jiajadesada, said that there were about 7,000 tour guides servicing foreign tourists in the northern province before the pandemic. That number decreased because many moved to work in other industries after the pandemic hit the tourism trade. Some even stopped extending their licenses, saying there was no future as Chinese-speaking tour guides.
As a consequence, the northern provinces, especially Chiang Mai, face a Chinese-speaking staff shortage. Despite this, Sihadate reckons that the northern provinces will have about 1,000 tour guides ready to serve tourists in time for the Chinese New Year.
According to the securities company Asia Plus Securities, 30% of the 40 million tourists in pre-pandemic Thailand were Chinese, about 12 million.
Thailand is expecting a similar number of tourists to return next year.
Asia Plus Securities added that the reopening period in January will be a perfect time because it is the High Season for Thai tourism, and Chinese citizens always travel before the Chinese New Year.