Chiang Mai tourism expected to recover to pre-Covid levels in 2025


The number of visitors to Chiang Mai dropped to 3.9 million people last year compared to 5.6 million people before the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019, according to data from the social enterprise Visit Chiang Mai.

Of this figure, 1.18 million people were foreigners, accounting for 58% compared to 2019. The number of visitors is expected to increase this year and reach pre-Covid figures in 2025.

The most noticeable drop involved the Chinese, with just 200,982 visiting the Northern capital, significantly lower than the 878,984 recorded in 2019.

This was due to a decline in direct flights from China to Chiang Mai and the Chinese economic slowdown, the social enterprise's chairman for city marketing promotion and development Vorapong Muchaotai said.

He expects Chinese tourists to remain uncertain about travelling to Thailand this year despite the new visa waiver agreement which will take effect on March 1.

"This measure is more likely to would attract Thai tourists to visit China rather than draw Chinese tourists to Thailand," Vorapong said.

On the bright side, the number of visitors from South Korea and Taiwan increased in 2023, with

191,167 Koreans arriving in Chiang Mai last year, 34% higher than in 2019. The number is expected to increase further, especially among golfers.

Meanwhile, 80,565 Taiwanese tourists visited the province last year, equal to 2019. The number of Taiwanese tourists is likely to hit 100,000 people this year thanks to an increase in direct flights from Taipei.

As many as 21 airlines organised direct flights to Chiang Mai last year, with Korean Airlines carrying the most at 76,623 tourists, followed by EVA Air (58,267) and Jeju Air (56,316).

Chiang Mai tourism expected to recover to pre-Covid levels in 2025

Panlop Saejiw, vice chairman of Tourism Council of Thailand, said the permanent free visa scheme showed China's confidence in Thai tourists and strong relationship between Thailand and China. He expects more Thai tourists to visit China under the scheme.

However, he pointed out that the number of Chinese visitors in Thailand has not increased despite the earlier visa waiver. “All parties have to brainstorm on attracting more Chinese visitors,” he said.