Thailand aims for 8 million Chinese tourists if airlines boost capacity

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has stated that the goal of attracting 8 million Chinese tourists this year is attainable, provided airlines can increase seat capacity to over 80% of pre-pandemic levels.

Chinese tourists had surpassed visitors from other countries by June 30, with 3.5 million arrivals out of a total of 17.5 million foreign visitors to Thailand. The Tourism and Sports Ministry reported that travellers from Malaysia and India followed with 2.4 million and 1 million arrivals respectively.

Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, deputy governor for international marketing in Asia and the South Pacific at TAT, stated that 6.44 million seats are available for Chinese routes during the summer schedule, which ends in October, equating to approximately 80% of pre-pandemic capacity.

Tourists can now travel from 40 cities in China to Thailand on 34,452 flights during this period.

“The agency set a target of 8 million Chinese tourists this year. To achieve this target, the seat capacity on Chinese routes should be increased, which is not easy as airlines in both Thailand and China are experiencing aircraft shortages.”

Chattan also noted that some airlines prefer to allocate their aircraft to domestic flights rather than international routes.

The TAT marketing deputy governor highlighted that the number of flights between China and Thailand is gradually increasing, and airlines may redirect their aircraft to serve more international destinations during the upcoming cool season.

TAT encourages Chinese carriers to fly directly to second-tier cities in Thailand with international airports, such as Chiang Rai, U-tapao airport in Chon Buri, and Surat Thani.

To support this, TAT plans to boost travel demand through activity promotions, which could help increase the load factor and sustain airline operations, according to Chattan. TAT is also in discussions with the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) to allocate suitable slots for Chinese flights.

Several airlines have inquired about reducing landing fees at airports, and TAT aims to mediate this issue with Airports of Thailand (AOT) in the near future.

With the Chinese Golden Week in October approaching, TAT anticipates a significant increase in Chinese arrivals from October 1 to 7, potentially resulting in at least 1 million Chinese visitors per month between October and December, reported Bangkok Post.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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