Thai tourism industry waits expectantly as China scraps travel restrictions
Thailand's tourism industry can expect a boost from China's move to scrap measures on overseas travel of its citizens from January 8, the Tourism Council of Chiang Mai said on Tuesday.
China’s National Health Commission announced the move on Monday after nearly three years of strict pandemic border restrictions effectively prevented tourists from leaving the country.
Visitors from China were Thailand's largest tourism market before the pandemic struck in 2020.
Council chairman Punlop Sae-Jew, however, said it was neccessary to monitor China's reopening as there could be a change in the future.
He expects Chinese businessmen to visit Thailand in the first quarter of next year. Chinese tourists are expected to visit Thailand from the second quarter onwards, he added.
"In my opinion, the Chinese government would keep its citizens in the country during the Chinese New Year festival in a bid to stimulate their own economy before allowing them to travel abroad," he said.
"Chinese tourists would not be able to travel overseas immediately as their passport may already have expired."
Punlop confirmed that hotel operators in Chiang Mai are ready to welcome tourists. However, he said operators of some businesses are accelerating recruitment of employees, such as masseurs and bus drivers.
Meanwhile, La-iad Bungsrithong, adviser to the president of the Thai Hotels Association Upper North Region, said the occupancy rate of hotels in Chiang Mai in the fourth quarter this year was great.
"The occupancy rate in October and November was 70% and 75%, respectively," she said, adding the occupancy rate in December was around 80% to 90%.
She expects Chiang Mai's tourism in the first quarter of next year to recover gradually as Thailand has entered the tourism high season.
She added that the number of flights is a key to stimulate tourism in Chiang Mai as it can facilitate travel for tourists.
"We would hold talks with airlines on the number of flights to Chiang Mai," she said, adding that the association would also hold talks with tourism entrepreneurs on what tourists need in the post-Covid-19 era.
"We have to set the prices of products and services to be affordable in a bid to attract tourists to the province," she added.
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