By SOMLUCK SRIMALEE
That is the opinion of Natchathorn Manopanjasiri, Thailand’s consul of the Commercial Affairs Office at the Royal Thai Consulate-General in the province’s capital, Kunming.
“Chinese people in Yunnan province have an interest in buying Thai products,” she said. “Many of them have expanded their investments into logistic businesses in Northern Thailand to import Thai products, especially agriculture food products. There is potential in the province for Thai investors to expand their investments here.”
Natchathorn said the investment potential for Thai companies in Yunnan stemmed from the province’s higher consumer purchasing power when compared to many other Chinese provinces.
In 2015, the trade value between Thailand and Yunnan was US$975 million (Bt34.4 billion) and Thailand’s trade deficit with the province was $500 million. In the first five months of this year the trade value between the two was $150 million.
“Thailand’s trade deficit was because we imported fresh fruit, flowers, and agricultural products from Yunnan,” she said.
Natchathorn said Thai investors eyeing China needed to find local partners and do their homework before investing.
Pinnat Charoenphol, director and chief representative of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Kunming office, which also covers Guizhou and Guangxi, said Thailand also benefited greatly from tourists coming to the country from Yunnan, with 12 per cent of the total 7.8 million Chinese tourists who visited Thailand in 2015 coming from Yunnan and Guizhou, and Guangxi provinces.
“Kunming city has several direct flights to Thailand, especially to tourist destinations such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Koh Samui, Krabi, Phuket. The number of tourists from Yunnan to Thailand is rising,” Pinnat said.
The challenge for Thai investors is to establish a foothold in the tourism industry in Kunming, Pinnat added. The TAT aims to boost Chinese tourism arrivals in the Kingdom to 10 million this year, with 14 per cent coming from Yunnan, Guizhou, and Guangxi.
Chinese tourists’ purchasing power in Thailand has increased from Bt30,000 per trip in the previous two years to an average of Bt45,000 this year. She said most Chinese tourists who visited Thailand were quality tourists who bought branded products.