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10 May 2006


Chinese Tourism Market, 2006: Income Rising 30% to THB26 Billion


The Chinese tourist market is taking on a greater role in Thailand tourism, over time. Formerly, it was only a small tourist market. Then, it began to grow rapidly and has been a top-ten contender in tourist arrivals to Thailand since 1993. Due to internal and external factors, the Chinese tourist market has seen significant changes over the last ten years, however. Between the years 1996-2005, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand rose an average of 9 percent per year, from 456,912 tourists in 1996 to 800,000 tourists in 2005.

According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), there were 779,070 Chinese tourists traveling to Thailand in 2004. Those tourists spent THB19.679 billion in Thailand. In 2005, KASIKORN RESEARCH CENTER (KResearch) expects that the number of Chinese tourist arrivals will have risen by 3 percent, or to approximately 800,000 persons, generating tourism income of at least THB20 billion.

It is of note that the number of Chinese outbound tourists has increased very quickly, with a rate of increase of more than 20 percent per year during 2000-2005. Meanwhile, the proportion of Chinese tourist arrivals in Thailand to the total number of Chinese outbound tourists started to decrease continuously, from a 9.7 percent proportion in 1998 to only 2.6 percent in 2005. This is a sign that the competitive potential of Thailand in maintaining our market share of the Chinese tourist market ? which is otherwise growing rapidly ? has been lost because of many reasons:
  1. The competition for a share of the Chinese tourist market has intensified Many countries are seeing more importance in the high growth of Chinese tourism because of many supporting factors:
  2. The upbeat Chinese economic growth has given Chinese people greater purchasing power
  3. The Chinese government has increased the number of approval destination countries for Chinese travel.
  4. The Chinese government is easing monetary exchange controls which are favorable to outbound tourism.
  5. Thailand tourism was been undermined by many factors, particularly the

problem of 'Zero-Dollar' Tours This has affected the image of Thailand. Both governments of the two countries have launched measures to solve the problem. Lately, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports set up a "service center for Chinese tourists" to accept complaints and solve problems for Chinese tourists.

Besides this, the Thai government and the private sector have cooperated on solving the problem of 'zero-dollar' tours, and accelerated promotion of quality package tours for the high-end Chinese tourist market, which focuses on the niche markets of company group tours and the MICE market. The co-signing of an agreement between the governments of Thailand and China in October 2005 to exchange tourists has induced larger tour group to visit Thailand since the end of 2005.

KResearch, hence, is of opinion that there will be more than one million Chinese tourists visiting Thailand in 2006, thus generating tourism-related income of some THB 26 billion, an increase of 30 percent.