The Thai tourism industry is hoping to see more Chinese visitors during Golden Week in October.
Every year, China National Day is celebrated on October 1 to commemorate the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Chinese nationals enjoy a 7-day holiday from October 1-7, known as Golden Week.
Vichit Prakobgosol, vice president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said that if the Thai government is able to fully reopen the country within the second quarter, the Kingdom would still have a chance to attract at least 5 million international tourists during the second half of 2022.
He reiterated that the sooner Thailand fully reopens, the more competitive it will be as a tourist destination. Furthermore, if China lifts additional international travel restrictions for its citizens in the fourth quarter, the total number of foreign tourists to the kingdom could reach 7-8 million by year-end.
He also stated that Thai tourism operators, who have inside sources in Chinese government agencies, learned that Beijing would allow its citizens to travel abroad starting October 1, which is China’s National Day.
Vichit also projected that Thailand would regain 70% of its pre-pandemic tourist numbers next year and 100% by 2024.
“It is expected that a lot of Chinese tourists will travel to Thailand,” said Vichit, whose Express company is a major inbound tourism operator.
“But we can’t expect the number of Chinese tourists to be around 800,000 to 900,000 a month like the pre-Covid years.”
The vice president noted, however, that many travel businesses have been unable to resume operations due to financial shortcomings. He added that since the pandemic, tourists have begun traveling in smaller groups, participating in more free-form tourism programs, and prioritizing relaxation activities. They have also been spending extended periods of time within hotel grounds and developing an affinity for specific urban restaurants.
Meanwhile, Prachoom Tantiprasertsuk, marketing president of the Thai Hotels Association, said most hotels are now hit by shortage of human resources because many staff have left to do their own business and they did not want to return to work in hotels again.
These shifts in travel habits pose further challenges for tour operators whose business models are based around large groups and scheduled programs, as well as shopping and dining in suburban areas.