Thai agents shift focus as Chinese arrivals dwindle


Thailand’s Chinese arrivals in October is expected to drop at least 40 per cent year-on-year and the negative sentiment is expected to drag till December due to the impact of the zero-dollar tour crackdown, projected the Thailand-China Tourism Association (TCTA).

TCTA president Ronnarong Cheewinsiriamnuai said the number of Chinese tour groups started to decline in September and plunged after the Golden Week in early October. In Bangkok, numbers fell to around 50 groups per day, compared to 300 groups per day in the past.

“We are very concerned about rising prices. If package prices to Thailand are equal to those in Japan, I have no idea how to compete. Japan and South Korea will benefit while Thailand loses,” he added.

An executive from a leading inbound travel agent said on condition of anonymity that many agents in China stopped selling tour packages to Thailand after they knew the Thai government was seriously suppressing zero-dollar tour businesses.

He revealed his company’s sales would decrease by 50 per cent this month and hoped the situation would bounce back slightly in December.

La-iad Bungsrithong, president of the Thai Hotels Association’s Northern Chapter, said hotels in Chiang Mai must shift its focus to domestic and MICE markets because of the downtrend in Chinese arrivals.

In Chiang Mai, visitors from China dropped 30-40 per cent since September, she said. La-iad projects that in 2017, arrivals from China to Chiang Mai would not grow. Therefore, hoteliers in the northern province, especially those who depended on Chinese travellers, must diversify into other potential markets.

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