Despite concerns that the recent Phuket boat accident would affect Chinese arrivals, Thailand saw a record 38.3 million tourists in 2018, according to latest figures from the Ministry of Tourism & Sports.
According to Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor, Yuthasak Supasorn, Thailand welcomed 10 million Chinese tourists during 2018 for the first time. China is already the country’s top visitor source market.
Thailand is now gearing up to roll out the welcome mat to Chinese visitors with “its most festive Chinese New Year celebration ever” during the Lunar New Year holiday next week while the two countries will mark the 44th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year.
“TAT expects to welcome over 330,000 Chinese tourists during the seven-day period (February 4 to 10). They represent more than 30 per cent of the overall total of 1.03 million international arrivals that are expected to visit Thailand over the Chinese New Year,” he added.
The latest record arrivals number for Thailand is a continuation of the surging growth that Thailand has seen in its tourism sector in the past decade, despite the authorities saying that they are no longer setting arrivals targets. The travel trade has repeatedly expressed its worries over overtourism and capacity issues in the country’s popular destinations and congested airports.
Based on the current trend, the tourism ministry now projects tourist arrivals to hit 41.1 million in 2019.
“If we actually really reach that level, I’ll have a headache,” tourism minister Weerasak Kowsurat was quoted as saying in a Bangkok Post report.