The number of Chinese tourist arrivals to Thailand is recovering gradually, with growth seen for the first time in July through to August 2019 at 1 million visitors. The rebound was attributable to a number of factors, including a visa on arrival (VOA) fee reduction scheme, proactive marketing campaigns staged by the relevant Thai public and private agencies in China and unrest in Hong Kong. Given this, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand contracted at a slower pace of 0.8 percent YoY during 8M19.
KResearch views that the number of Chinese holidaymakers in Thailand may continue to recover during the remainder of 2019, thanks to short-term tourism stimuli introduced by the Thai government, such as VOA fee exemption until April 30, 2020, plus China's long public holidays (October 1-7, 2019) for National Day celebration. We expect that the number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand during the Chinese National Day may reach approximately 240,000, increasing 18 percent over the same period of 2018 when there was a steep contraction. Thai tourism will likely receive a windfall from the prolonged unrest in Hong Kong, as well.
Given the above factors, plus the fact that conditions in Thailand are conducing to travelling and the number of Chinese tourist arrivals contracted at a slower pace during 8M19, KResearch views that the number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand may grow as expected to approximately 10.80-10.99 million, up 2.6-4.4 percent YoY. Those visiting Thailand with tour companies is set to increase.
Looking ahead, we expect that Thailand will experience more challenges in maintaining growth of the Chinese tourist arrivals because of several uncontrollable factors, such as the unfavorable Chinese economic performance and the Yuan amid new forms of competition in the international tourism market and changing Chinese tourist behavior. However, Thailand should maintain security and develop transportation connections to tourist attractions in order to keep our status as a favorite holiday destination for Chinese tourists and ensure sustainable growth in their arrivals.