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16 Jan 2009


Thailand’s Inbound Chinese Tourist Trend, 2009: Challenged by Economic Downturn (Business Brief No.2404)

Chinese tourists are a major market for Thailand. Chinese tourists are the fourth largest group of foreign tourists visiting Thailand (accounting for 6.9 percent out of the total international tourist arrivals to Thailand after Malaysian, Japanese and South Korean tourists, respectively). International tourism by Chinese, especially the high-end segment, has grown rapidly because of their country's robust economic growth over past years. KASIKORN RESEARCH CENTER (KResearch) estimates tourists from China to Thailand in 2008 based on the number of Chinese tourist arrivals to Thailand via Suvarnabhumi Airport compiled by the National Tourism Administration, Ministry of Tourism and Sport, during 9M08, tourists from China are expected to decelerate in 2008. The data showed that the number of tourists from China arrivals to Thailand began to drop in 2Q08, growing only 7 percent YoY, versus the 21 percent growth in 1Q08. A sharp drop was seen in 3Q08, with a contraction of 32 percent YoY. It is expected that this figure will be seen to have shrunken 88 percent in 4Q08.
KResearch has assessed that the deceleration in tourist from China arrivals visiting Thailand has been caused by many factors, such as domestic political uncertainty, heightening competition in international travel markets and the global economic downturn, which is affecting the Chinese economy considerably. It is expected that the number of tourist from China arrivals to the Kingdom will total 750,000 for the entire year, shrinking 25 percent against the 1 million arrivals in 2007.
In KResearch's view toward the inbound Chinese tourist market trend, it is projected that the number of Chinese travelers will continue to slow in 1H09. Nonetheless, the situation may improve in 3Q09 if our domestic political situation stabilizes and the Chinese economic deceleration eases in 2H09. It is expected that there will be around 675,000 visitors from China coming to Thailand this year, contracting 10 percent from 2008. KResearch further views that Thailand tourism is still competitive because we have many tourist attractions, diverse natural resources and a unique culture in each region. To bolster Thai tourism, relevant agencies should restore the image of our country by introducing measures that will help attract more Chinese and other foreign tourists. In addition, fostering new international confidence toward Thai tourism is a must.

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