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20 Jan 2023

Econ Digest

Earlier-than-expected arrival of Chinese tourists to drive foreign tourist arrivals to Thailand to 25.5 million in 2023


        After the Chinese authorities’ relaxation of quarantine rules for inbound travelers, cancellation of limited number of passengers on international flights from January 8, 2023, and resumption of the application and renewal of passports for Chinese residents, many Chinese people are interested in searching for international travel information, particularly for Thailand. KResearch projects that the number of Chinese travelers to Thailand in 2023 may reach 4.65 million, or approximately 42% of Chinese arrivals in 2019. A major return of Chinese tourists will become evident in the second quarter and even more apparent during the second half of this year. This is driven by the resumption of flight routes and frequencies between China and Thailand, promotional campaigns introduced by travel agencies and the growing number of tourism operators. In particular, if Thailand is selected as one of the pilot countries for the revitalization of group tours, the number of Chinese visitors may leap forward from the first half of the year. This is because Chinese people will now be able to enjoy their seasonal tourism periods – summer semester break (July-August of every year) and China’s National Day holidays (October 1-7 of every year).

        Looking ahead, attention must be paid to measures imposed on Chinese visitors by other countries and regions including South Korea, Japan, European countries, etc. If the situation does not change much from the present, while long-distance travel requires greater budgets, it is more likely that Chinese people seeking travel will choose Thailand as their destination. However, Chinese tourists spending per trip in Thailand in 2023 may not increase from the pre-COVID-19 level in 2019, as the economy and incomes have not yet improved. Chinese tourists have to set aside higher travel expenses (airfare and health insurance) for the same trip, except those with ample savings or who are not affected by the Chinese economy. As a result, spending generated by Chinese tourists in Thailand will bring about THB1.86 billion to the tourism and related businesses, or 36% of the spending amount in 2019. Based on our forecast of a resurgence in the Chinese market that has come sooner than expected, KResearch thus revises its projection for foreign tourists visiting Thailand in 2023 to 25.5 million (a range of 24-26 million tourists), which will generate revenue of about THB1.07 trillion for tourism and related businesses.

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