THE NATION (THAILAND)/ANN: The government and the private sector are launching joint campaigns to bring back Chinese tourists during the peak festive season and hope that this will help Thailand reach this year’s tourism targets.
Despite the drop in Chinese tourists over the last four months, a rise in non-Chinese tourists may actually help boost the overall economy, top officials said.
A rare drop in tourist arrivals in October, caused by a sharp fall in the number of Chinese visitors, has cast a shadow over the country’s economic outlook.
“Overall arrivals in October totalled 2.7 million, down 0.5 per cent from the previous year, due to a sharp drop in Chinese tourists,” permanent secretary for Tourism and Sport Ministry Pongpanu Svetarundra told a news briefing on November 21.
Since the Phuket boat tragedy in July, the number of Chinese tourists to Thailand dropped by 12 per cent in August, 15 per cent in September and nearly 20 per cent in October.
Around 646,000 Chinese tourists visited the Kingdom last month, registering a drop of 19.8 per cent year on year. Tourism revenue from the Chinese market fell by 16.5 per cent to 34.6 billion baht ($1.05 billion).
However, he said, more than 37 million tourists had visited Thailand over the past 10 months, rising 7.8 per cent from the same period last year. Tourism revenue hit 1.6 trillion baht, up 9.9 per cent.
“But the numbers are still below target. We need to meet our target of 370 billion baht revenue in the last two months of this year, which would be a miracle. However, I don’t think we will miss our annual target of 2 trillion baht,” Panupong said.
The government last week launched the quick-entry e-Visa on Arrival (E-VOA) system for 20 countries – including China – waiving the 2,000 baht visa fee for 60 days at two airports. Meanwhile, the government’s economic tsar, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, earlier this month made a deal in Shanghai with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to help promote Thailand as a tourist destination.
Officials expect the waiver on visa-on-arrival fee will bring an additional 2 million Chinese tourists.
“With the E-VOA and Amazing Thailand Grand Sales: Passport Privilege campaigns, we hope to target Chinese tour groups,” Minister of Tourism and Sports Weerasak Kosurat told The Nation.