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6 Jan 2023

Econ Digest

China’s easing of lockdown measures set to boost the recovery of Chinese tourist market


        After the Chinese government began easing domestic lockdown measures in November 2022, it recently announced the relaxation of inbound travel restrictions, effective January 8, 2023, which is sooner than expected by observers. Although the authorities have not fully lifted outbound travel restrictions, even with supervision in place, the barriers to Chinese tourists traveling abroad should be greatly reduced, and by the first half of 2023, China will likely allow Chinese nationals to travel abroad as usual; this is provided that the current wave of COVID-19 is within control and does not put a strain on the country’s public health system.

        KResearch projects that the number of Chinese tourist arrivals in Thailand during 2023 will increase by more than 3-4 times over that seen in 2022, or to more than 1 million. The figure may be higher if various conditions are more conducive to travelling, especially if China allows foreign tour operators to enter the market to carry out marketing activities. During the first 11 months of 2022, the number of Chinese tourist arrivals in Thailand was recorded at 219,421 persons and may reach 260,000 persons at the end of 2022. For 2023, Chinese tourist arrivals in Thailand will be small groups of free travelers at the beginning, and will accelerate if various conditions are more favorable. The most popular destinations for Chinese tourists are Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Chonburi. Recently, the new generation of Chinese tourists has become more interested in traveling to local communities in second tier cities.  

        Although China’s relaxation on various conditions present positive signs for the recovery in the number of Chinese tourist arrivals in Thailand, it may take a while for such figure to reach pre-COVID-19 levels of 2019. Based on a cautious view of increasing Chinese tourists and the recovery of other inbound markets amid an uncertain economic outlook, KResearch still projects 20-24 million inbound visitors to Thailand in 2023, doubling from the more than 11 million in 2022.

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