TAT: Chinese tourists still hindered

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The Temple of Emerald Buddha, which is usually packed with Chinese group tours, has few visitors nowadays. Chinese visitors could return during the Golden Week holiday in October, albeit not in tour groups. 
Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul

The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) China office is tempering enthusiasm that many Chinese tourists will visit in the second half this year as travel restrictions ease, as low Chinese purchasing power for outbound trips persists and an uptick in new infections emerges in Beijing.

The surging unemployment rate of 6% or 27 million on the mainland remains a challenge as Thailand eagerly awaits its No.1 source market.

Lerdchai Wangtrakoondee, director of TAT’s Shanghai office, said after temporarily adopting new hygienic practices for months, the situation in China is returning to normal, although outbound tour operators are still on ice.

He said the actual unemployment rate is expected to be more severe as the figures only count urban areas.

“Spending power is weak and the cost of travel will be higher because of lower capacity in tourism services, such in fewer flight seats, so Thai tourism operators should be aware the market will be hobbled for some time,” said Mr Lerdchai.

He said Thailand will face tough competition from rivals eager to lure Chinese tourists back, led by the Maldives, which plans to lift travel restrictions to all nationalities in July.

Singapore already opened its border to Chinese business travellers early this month.

Even Thailand’s goal to attract medical tourists during the first phase of reopening will not be easy as Singapore has strong public health services and has an advantage in Chinese language, said Mr Lerdchai.

He suggested local operators step up marketing campaigns to target cities that saw high GDP growth rates in 2019, such as Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Chongqing.

Even though cities are affected by the outbreak, people there still have enough purchasing power to travel once the bans are lifted.

Read the full article at Bangkok Post: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1935396/tat-chinese-tourists-still-hindered?fbclid=IwAR0xSdWsbKJs-zIVxirU08C0VTIdYUaE2rRrmCcKX_1zXX1CIorPU9zksy8

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