China’s outbound tourism surges due to strategic visa policies and AI use

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

The increase in China‘s outbound tourism can be linked to the strategic visa policies and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in travel assistants, as stated by Group, China’s leading online travel platform.

The group’s vice president and managing director of international markets, Boon Sian Chai, highlighted the significance of visa waivers introduced in September in the revival of travel to Thailand.

Following the announcement of the waivers, Chai noted a significant 800% surge in Thailand searches on their platform. He believes that a permanent visa waiver would further enhance travel to the Land of Smiles by reducing the obstacles faced by travellers.

Despite the brief interval between the waiver announcement and the onset of China’s Golden Week holiday, outbound travel to Thailand during this period saw an unprecedented increase, with volumes rising to 1,121%, more than 11 times the volume seen last year.

In addition to Thailand, Chai explained that Chinese travellers also showed increased interest in less typical destinations such as Serbia, Georgia, and Saudi Arabia. The ease of obtaining visas for these countries was a contributing factor, making the Thai government’s visa waiver a welcomed initiative.

Thailand, a favourite among mainland tourists, has a positive outlook for its inbound market as per Chai. During October’s Golden Week holiday, Thailand was the preferred Southeast Asian destination for Chinese travellers. Data from the group showed that Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, and Krabi were the top five Thai destinations for Chinese travellers this year, with an average trip duration of four days.

Popular destinations for Chinese tourists

The leading five source markets for Chinese tourists seeking travel information about Thailand were Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. Besides China, Thailand also featured in the top three destinations for Group’s customers from several markets, including Singapore, Japan, Cambodia, and Malaysia, reported Bangkok Post.

Chai noted a noticeable demand, although the supply side, particularly international air links, has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels. As supply increases incrementally, Chai anticipates a full recovery for the entire tourism sector, especially within Asia-Pacific, leading to an optimistic outlook.

Chai further mentioned the pivotal role of technology, specifically AI, in the recent surge of Chinese tourism to Thailand. AI was utilised in customer service and the travel assistant TripGenie, which aids travellers in planning and booking itineraries. Other AI-enhanced curated lists like Trip.Trends, Trip.Best, and Trip. Deals were also employed. Group offers 24/7 customer service on various channels, including email and online chat, for a more comfortable travel experience. The group also provides an SOS service for customers in emergencies, such as a natural disaster, arranging special provisions to ensure their swift and safe return home.

Chai emphasised that visa waivers reduce friction for travellers, making destinations more accessible.

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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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