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19 Jan 2024


Number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand has surged to the top spot (Current Issue No.3449)


        China was the top source of foreign tourists to Thailand during January 1-14, 2024, with a total of 186,424 arrivals. The surge was due to (1) seasonal factor as Chinese travelers often go on holiday trips towards the end of the year through to the Chinese New Year, which this year falls on February 10 (2) the positive impacts of Thailand’s visa-exemption measure, effective September 25, 2023 - February 29, 2024, for Chinese tourists. The measure has made travel more convenient for Chinese visitors to Thailand.
        Looking ahead, we at KResearch view that whether Chinese tourists will be ranked first on Thailand’s international tourist arrival list or not may rest with three factors: (1) the number of Chinese tourist arrivals before and after the upcoming Chinese New Year, as compared to that that reported during the first half of January 2024; (2) whether the permanent visa-free scheme will be approved by the two countries or not after the expiration of the visa-exemption measure at the end of February 2024, and (3) travel experience of Chinese tourists in Thailand. If the relevant parties can effectively maintain and promote related marketing strategies, such endeavors will help support the recovery momentum of Chinese tourist arrivals in Thailand.  
        For 2024, KResearch is of the view that China will continue to be a top source market for foreign tourists to Thailand by the end of 2024, with 5.2 million arrivals (forecast as of December 12, 2023), an increase from the 3.5 million arrivals reported for 2023. This is because the recovery momentum of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand is expected to continue, as compared to pre-pandemic levels of approximately 11 million arrivals. However, the return of Chinese tourists to Thailand may take a while as economic challenges in China may affect the needs of Chinese tourists to travel abroad. At the same time, travel costs remain high, especially for those with relatively lower income and savings, as reflected by the fact that the number of Chinese tourist arrivals in most Asian destinations remain below pre-pandemic levels. Increased competition with other rivals may also affect the recovery in the number of Chinese visitors to Thailand in the future.