The market for Chinese tourists in 2020 deserves close attention as many risk factors remain. The number of Chinese holidaymakers in Thailand rebounded late last year to register a positive growth after a contraction in 1H19. However, the rise is partly attributed to political violence in Hong Kong which rerouted the Chinese tourists' destination from Hong Kong to other countries.
Regarding the outlook for the Chinese tourist market in Thailand this year, KResearch views that during the Chinese New Year from 24-30 January 2020, the sentiment should continue to be buoyant with around 365,500 Chinese tourists expected to visit Thailand during the Chinese New Year, up 2.7 percent, which is similar growth to the level registered during the Chinese New Year last year. A series of marketing campaigns launched by both the government and private sectors, coupled with a fee waiver for visa on arrivals, are the main factors promoting the Chinese market.
In 2020, the Chinese tourist market in Thailand still faces several challenges, including the Chinese economic slowdown and an outbreak of a new virus in China. KResearch posits that since Thailand is one of the top tourist destinations of Chinese tourists, the government and related agencies will closely monitor the situation of this pneumonia-like infection. In addition, the fact that some Chinese tourists may change their travel plans to visit nearby countries instead of the Middle East due to military tensions there may propel the Chinese tourist market in Thailand to grow further. KResearch expects that, in 2020, around 11.10-11.30 million Chinese travelers will visit Thailand or an increase of 1.6-3.5 percent.
Chinese tourists are likely to spend approximately 550 billion-560 billion Baht, or an increase of approximately 1.1-2.8 percent compared to 2019. The tourist receipts from Chinese travelers should enjoy an increase in the food and beverage segment, partly driven by the government's campaigns to promote food tourism by showcasing Thailand's street food and regional cuisine. Additionally, most Chinese tourists like to explore well-known local restaurants with authentic foods on their own, and such behavior can be done more conveniently through smartphone. Meanwhile, strong competition in the hotel and accommodation business has decreased the accommodation expenses for inbound travelers. Therefore, the Chinese tourists have more choices in terms of quality and price.
Due to the fiercely competitive business environment and changing behavior of Chinese and international tourists, whose demands have become more complex and diverse as seen by their desire to vacation as a Free Independent Traveler (FIT), the hospitality operators have no other choice but to remodel their business practices to catch up with others and stand out.