Unfazed by challenges, TAT targets 5m Chinese tourists this year
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has set an ambitious goal of attracting 5.3 million Chinese tourists and generating 446 billion baht in revenue this year.
However, there are challenges that need to be addressed to achieve these targets.
One of the biggest challenges is the competition posed by other countries popular with Chinese travellers, as well as the recovery of the aviation industry.
Flight availability to and from Thailand is still insufficient to meet the market demands, which has led some Chinese tour groups to change their destinations and explore other countries instead.
After China reopened its borders on January 8, Thailand has felt an impact on the tourism industry.
Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA), said the aim should be to focus on the third quarter (July-September), as it coincides with summer vacations in China.
However, he voiced concerns about whether Thailand will actually get to see as many as 2 million Chinese tourists during that period. The first half of the year has only seen slightly more than a million visitors from China.
He also said that selling trips to Chinese tour groups is not as easy as it was before the Covid-19 pandemic. This is because Chinese tourists now prefer to travel independently. Currently, up to 90% of Chinese tourists entering Thailand are Free Independent Travellers (FIT), while the market for Chinese tour groups accounts for only 10%.
Hence, tour companies need to adapt to this change and adjust their marketing strategies, he said.
TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn, however, reckons Chinese arrivals will pick up soon thanks to the many improvements and conveniences the authorities are set to introduce. Among them is the “VPSS” or Visa Pre-Screening System which aims to expedite and ensure a more efficient visa-approval process. This system is expected to be put in place by July.
He added that despite the many challenges, TAT is confident Thailand will see more than 5 million Chinese arrivals. TAT is also certain that Chinese tourists will spend 10-15% more compared to the pre-Covid period, averaging at about 50,000 baht per person. This is because Chinese tourists are spending more time in the country, he said.
In view of this, the estimated revenue from Chinese tourists is expected to be in line with set targets.
Overall, the Thai tourism sector is aiming for a total tourism revenue of 2.38 trillion baht in 2023, with targets of some 25 million international tourists and 135 million domestic trips.
As of June 25, Thailand has welcomed 12.46 million tourists this year, generating a revenue of 514.24 billion baht. The top five tourist arrivals this year are from Malaysia (1.98 million), China (1.38 million), Russia (784,428), South Korea (741,909) and India (732,523).