Xi’s Bangkok APEC trip to open tourist floodgates

If Chinese President Xi Jinping shows up at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok that could go a long way to securing 12 million tourists this year, according to Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakan.

Phiphat believes as many as 1.5 million Chinese travellers could visit Thailand in December if Xi allows outbound tourism to resume. The Chinese premier has confirmed that he will attend the APEC summit on November 18, assuming he is still president after this month’s Party congress in Beijing.

Phiphat said…

“I am confident we will reach the goal of 10 million foreign tourists by the end of this year.”

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The halfway point was reached in the first nine months of 2022. The minister said 1.5 million foreign tourists are expected to visit Thailand in each of the last three months of the year, putting the total for the year just over the 10-million threshold. Flights between Thailand and southern China have more than doubled to 15 per week, mostly for students and businessmen.

Xi's Bangkok APEC trip to open tourist floodgates | News by Thaiger
Hoards of Chinese tourists are thought to be preparing to visit Thailand in December.

The Tourism and Sports Ministry has maintained a close relationship with China during the pandemic, and it is hoped the mainland will relax travel restrictions in December as a diplomatic move, a gift for Thailand, the host of the summit.

In 2019, Thailand received 11 million Chinese tourists, generating 530 billion baht (US$14 billion) from an average expenditure of 6,100 baht (US$160) per day.

A recent survey showed that the top three factors that pull Chinese tourists to visit Thailand are the beautiful beaches and natural attractions, cultural events, and good value for money.

Meanwhile, Japan will fully reopen on October 11. Tourist exchanges between Thailand and Japan were very strong before the pandemic, with high numbers of travellers in both directions. Thailand received 1.8 million Japanese travellers in 2019, while the Japan National Tourism Organisation reported 1.3 million Thais going in the opposite direction.

Further easing of entry restrictions in Hong Kong and Taiwan will bring even more tourists, particularly to Hong Kong, a preferred destination for Thais. Outbound tourists to Hong Kong and Taiwan in 2019 totalled 430,000 and 380,000, respectively.

For the domestic Thai market, the ministry expects 160 million trips within the country, thanks to “We Travel Together” subsidies. Local people may also have some health and safety concerns about travelling overseas.

Despite his confidence, Phiphat said one concern was spending by visitors, which is expected to be lower and could affect the 1.5-trillion-baht revenue target.

SOURCE Bangkok Post

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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