Thailand courting Chinese tourists after 12% drop-off


(TVLW) – Thailand hopes to welcome about 1.3 million Chinese tourists next year, about a 10% increase from one million visitors estimated in 2007, the Tourism Authority of Thailand in Beijing reports.

The number of Chinese arrivals visiting Thailand has been falling since last year due to Thailand’s political problems and the bombs in the capital, drawing 12% fewer Chinese visitors in the first 10 months to 655,154, down from 747,067 in the same period of 2006. Total Chinese visitors would have zero growth this year.

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But TAT hopes that its marketing campaigns together with explanations about the real situation in Thailand would bring back tourists from China.

Amnuay Thiamkeerakul, director of TAT’s Beijing Office said that TAT has organised many roadshows to attract Chinese tourists, focusing on package-tour travellers and foreign independent travellers (FIT), who have high purchasing power.

He said that the plans of Air China International and Thai Airways International to double direct flights between Beijing and Bangkok from seven flights a week in January could promote Chinese travel to Thailand.

Liu Feng, CEO of China Comfort Travel Group, a major tour operator in China, was optimistic that more Chinese would visit Thailand in the future.

Chiang Mai is likely to be listed on his company’s package tour next year thanks to new facilities attracting Chinese travellers such as golf courses, spas and historical spots, said Mr Feng, who joined a tourism seminar held in Chiang Mai last week.

He said tour packages currently focus on only the same places, including Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Samui.

”Chiang Mai will become popular among Chinese tourists as its climate is convenient for playing golf, and fees remain low,” he said.

China Comfort Travel Group plans to introduce package tours, including river cruises between Chiang Rung and Chiang Saen at a cost of 4,500 yuan (approximately 22,500 baht) for a five-day trip. Caravan tours from Kunming to Bangkok would be offered sometime next year if construction of Route No. 9 that links Thailand and China is completed during 2008.