More Chinese tourists expected to welcome Year of Dragon in Thailand
Thailand can expect to see a surge in Chinese tourists during the upcoming Chinese New Year, said Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA).
He attributes this expected increase to the government’s visa-free policy for Chinese arrivals, which has been running for five months and will end in February.
He said on Tuesday that travel agents have also enjoyed an increase in reservations of chartered flights from China to Thailand.
“Most Chinese tourists book tour packages about one week in advance, so we expect to see an increase in reservations in the last week of January,” he said.
Statistics for the first week of January indicate a promising trend, he said, with Chinese nationals leading the list of foreign arrivals with 81,854 people, followed by Malaysians (64,053), Russians (51,467), and South Koreans (43,894).
Overall, foreign arrivals from January 1-7 rose 41% year on year, totalling 605,537 people, marking a continued recovery of Thailand’s tourism sector, he added. ATTA estimates the total number of foreign arrivals during January will come in at around 2.5 million people.
Tassapon Bijleveld, executive chairman of Thai AirAsia and Thai AirAsia X, said on Tuesday that about 40% of China-Thailand flights of the two low-cost airlines have been booked for January-February, which indicates “a good start”.
He expects to see at least 5 million arrivals from China this year, though the Tourism Authority of Thailand has set a more ambitious target of at least 8 million Chinese visitors in 2024.
Beyond February 29, when the free visa policy for selected countries wraps up, travellers from Thailand and China will continue to benefit from free visa privileges. Under the Thailand-China free visa policy, visa requirements for both Thai and Chinese citizens, have been waived permanently from March 1.