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Thailand Looks to China for Tourism Recovery
21 April 2020 | Written by dtnweb

A recent study has predicted major re-growth in Thai tourism, courtesy of a rebound in China’s outbound sector. According to the latest projections, tourism in Thailand could recover sooner than expected, with growth expected in Q3/Q4 as Chinese tourists resume their travel in 2020.

The study was conducted in mid-April by C9 Hotelworks and DAC China Digital Services, who surveyed more than a thousand respondents in China’s major cities. To gauge potential arrivals and demographic groups, questions focused on willingness to travel. The study also included analyses of travel metrics in Thailand and the likelihood of post-pandemic recovery before the end of the year. The results are generally very encouraging.

“We expect Thailand’s reopening trajectory to initially be dominated by the domestic storyline but move quickly into inter-regional travel punctuated by the outbound China sector, who are ready and willing to visit the country as demonstrated by the survey results,” said C9 Hotelworks managing director Bill Barnett.

The results of the study would support these claims, offering reason for cautious optimism among those working in Thailand’s tourism industry. Survey results revealed that 53% of respondents would like to go abroad in 2020, with August, October and December highlighted as the most popular months for travel.

The next tier of the study focused on Thailand specifically as a destination for Chinese travellers. A massive 71% expressed a wish to travel to Thailand in the remaining months of 2020. Around 75% respondents chose Bangkok, Phuket or Chiang Mai as their destination of choice, with the nation’s capital being the most popular overall. Koh Samui and Pattaya were also popular options. In terms of accommodation, 72% stated a preference for hotels or resorts over cheaper lodgings, while the trip budget for half of those surveyed was found to be around US$2,100 per person.

Another metric that will be of interest to tour providers in Thailand is a noticeable shift among Chinese travellers from group tours to FIT.  An overwhelming 83% of those questioned said they would choose independent travel over group tours; the result is an indication of the lasting impact coronavirus is likely to have on tourism, even long after the immediate threat of infection has passed.

Thailand welcomed nearly 11 million arrivals from China last year, comprising more than a quarter of the Kingdom’s 39.8 million international visitors in 2019. For a nation that depends on international tourism for an estimated 15% of its GDP, welcoming Chinese travellers back to Thailand as soon as reasonably possible is therefore an economic necessity.

Domestic air travel has already been resumed in China, while countries worldwide are beginning to take the first tentative steps towards lifting travel restrictions. After nearly two months of closures, curfews and containment, the prospect of a return to normality comes as a welcome relief to those working in the tourism sector throughout Southeast Asia.