Thailand’s tourism hit hard as Chinese visitor numbers drop almost 20%

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Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sport has admitted that the number Chinese tourists to Thailand fell by 19.8 per cent in October compared to the same month last year, while spending by visitors from China was down 16.6 per cent.

August recorded a dip of 12 per cent and September brought 15 per cent fewer Chinese tourists than the same months last year. This is substantial since Chinese tourists make up about a third of all visitors to Thailand. But they have been put off by a series of awkward incidents and pr stunts that went sour, but most of all a deadly ferry accident that left 46 dead. About $476 million was lost in spending over the three-month period, statistics showed.

The prolonged slump of the past few months has been a “wake-up call” for Thailand’s tourism industry, tour and hotel operators said, as it has pushed the sector to mull its overreliance on one source country for tourists which isn’t seen as a smart strategy anymore.

Since the Phuket tragedy the government has rolled out inducements aimed at regaining trust and making travel easier. The immigration bureau exempted Chinese tourists from paying a $60 visa-on-arrival fee from November to mid-January. In October, four immigration officials were demoted from their position following a probe that found they were demanding “tips” from Chinese tourists to fast track their entry.

Meanwhile, Chiang Mai faces a special shakeout from the decline in Chinese tourists. The city, among the most popular destinations for Chinese holidaymakers in Thailand, now has overcapacity in hotels rooms and a growing number of small hotels and hostels are up for sale as owners are forced to go out of business because they cannot absorb the impact from the falling number of bookings.

Property agents say they are dealing with an unusually high level of sales as the downturn hits smaller businesses hardest. More than ten websites for Chiang Mai properties are currently posting hotels for sale. Many boutique hotels that closed recently are offered at prices ranging from over 50 million baht ($1.52 million) down to even a few million baht.

Thai tourism authorities are now looking to other source countries in Southeast and East Asia, as well as India to step up promotions and advertising.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sport has admitted that the number Chinese tourists to Thailand fell by 19.8 per cent in October compared to the same month last year, while spending by visitors from China was down 16.6 per cent.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sport has admitted that the number Chinese tourists to Thailand fell by 19.8 per cent in October compared to the same month last year, while spending by visitors from China was down 16.6 per cent.

August recorded a dip of 12 per cent and September brought 15 per cent fewer Chinese tourists than the same months last year. This is substantial since Chinese tourists make up about a third of all visitors to Thailand. But they have been put off by a series of awkward incidents and pr stunts that went sour, but most of all a deadly ferry accident that left 46 dead. About $476 million was lost in spending over the three-month period, statistics showed.

The prolonged slump of the past few months has been a “wake-up call” for Thailand’s tourism industry, tour and hotel operators said, as it has pushed the sector to mull its overreliance on one source country for tourists which isn’t seen as a smart strategy anymore.

Since the Phuket tragedy the government has rolled out inducements aimed at regaining trust and making travel easier. The immigration bureau exempted Chinese tourists from paying a $60 visa-on-arrival fee from November to mid-January. In October, four immigration officials were demoted from their position following a probe that found they were demanding “tips” from Chinese tourists to fast track their entry.

Meanwhile, Chiang Mai faces a special shakeout from the decline in Chinese tourists. The city, among the most popular destinations for Chinese holidaymakers in Thailand, now has overcapacity in hotels rooms and a growing number of small hotels and hostels are up for sale as owners are forced to go out of business because they cannot absorb the impact from the falling number of bookings.

Property agents say they are dealing with an unusually high level of sales as the downturn hits smaller businesses hardest. More than ten websites for Chiang Mai properties are currently posting hotels for sale. Many boutique hotels that closed recently are offered at prices ranging from over 50 million baht ($1.52 million) down to even a few million baht.

Thai tourism authorities are now looking to other source countries in Southeast and East Asia, as well as India to step up promotions and advertising.

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