Chinese visitors to surge in Thailand in 2015
Updated: 2014-12-19 19:27
Chinese visitors accounted for some 4.1 million trips to Thailand in 2014, a decrease on the previous year because of political instabilty in Thaliand but a surge in the number is expected in 2015, according to Mafengwo.com, China's largest tourist information sharing website.
China, as the major source of visitors to Thailand, has had a significant influence on its tourism industry. In 2013, there were about 4.63 million Chinese visitors, a year-on-year growth of 66 percent, the Tourism Authority of Thailand said.
The 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Thailand will be marked in 2015.
At the Thai food and culture festival organized by the Thai embassy earlier this month, Wiboon Khusakul, Thailand's Ambassador to China announced that next year Thailand is expecting to attract 5 million Chinese visitors and will provide a more favorable visa policy.
The embassy will also hold a number of activities to further boost traveler numbers from China to Thailand, according to the ambassador.
HH Travel, the high-end travel brand under Ctrip Group, said visitor numbers to Thailand in 2014 had decreased compared to 2013 amid political tension in the country.
A three-month visa fee exemption was introduced in August by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to stimulate and attract Chinese travelers.
Many countries have adopted simliar measures, including the introduction of multiple-entry visas, as the spending power of Chinese tourists is recognised.
Yang Jinsong, a professor with the China Tourism Academy who researches international tourism, is confident that Thailand's waiving of visa fees for tourists from the Chinese mainland will attract more Chinese visitors.
There was an almost immediate upturn in vistors after the August visa measure and numbers for October, especially during the National Day holiday, rose back to 2013 levels.
Yang Mengyue, publicity officer of HH Travel said the upward trend will continue and more designated holiday packages to cater to Chinese visitors will be introduced.
Yan Xin, publicity officer of Ctrip, the country's leading online travel agency, said a major increase in numbers will be witnessed in the first half of 2015. Yan's optimism was echoed by analysis from Mafengwo, which said that the number of Chinese tourists heading to Thailand could hit a record-breaking 5.5 million in 2015.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand has unviled its promotion theme for the new year, 2015: Discover Thainess, which will focus on destinations outside the main tourist areas and catert to more families and honeymooners.
The most popular destinations in Thailand among Chinese tourists include Chiangmai, Bangkok and Phuket Island.
In addition, the Thai tourism authorities will also head for China's major cities in the first half of next year, with promotional roadshows introducing tour routes and various travel products.
More than 10,000 direct flights have left for Thailand from eastern China in the last few months, many with 90 percent capacity.
Apart from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, the number of direct flights from other cities have also increased. For example, there are more than 40 flights monthly to Bangkok, Phuket Island and Chiangmai from Wuhan, Hubei province.
Thai airports expect overseas tourists will exceed 98.1 million from October 2014 to September 2015, a 12 percent increase.
A 24/7 Chinese-language service station in Suvarnabhumi Airportwas set up in October, providing tourism information and a hotline, 1672, was introduced to help any visitors encountering difficulties.