Thailand’s tourism authorities are getting jittery as the Kingdom continues to bleed Chinese tourists in the wake of a surging baht. They fear Thailand is losing its reputation as one of the most affordable destinations in south east Asia for Chinese tourists. Thailand’s most popular resorts, Pattaya and Phuket, have been particularly suffering from the discernible drop in Chinese visitors.
Chinese tourists have accounted for up to 30% all foreign visitors to Thailand in the past three years but their numbers have dropped 5% for the first six months of 2019, from 5.9 million down to 5.6 million, after last year’s tour boat incident which killed 47 Chinese tourists, the opening up of flight routes to new destinations and the rise of the baht against the Chinese yuan.
Pipat Ratchakitprakarn, Minister of Tourism and Sports, continues to lay the blame on the currency challenges as a deterrent for tourists looking to book a holiday.
Narit Stapoldecha, an analyst at TMB Analytics says the Bank of Thailand’s moves to curb currency speculator’s enthusiasm for the baht has had limited impact.
“The baht has appreciated 12% against the Yuan in a year. The currency’s recent appreciation puts Thailand at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting tourists, especially those who are sensitive about prices such as family or budget travelers.”
The effects of a surging Baht have also been felt by tourists from other countries, such as Russia, Australia and those in Europe. In Pattaya, the infamous tourist town 2 hours east of Bangkok, businesses catering to tourists have already begun to feel the pinch.
Ping, a souvenir vendor in Pattaya, says tourists ponder more on value when they spend on accommodation, transport and food. Bars and restaurants in Pattaya have reported losses in profit.
“Tourists no longer spend on tips at a restaurant. They’d rather buy food and drinks from a convenience store and eat on the beach instead.”
Ping says tourists are bored with Pattaya and looking for new destinations in the region to visit, especially places where they could feel more comfortable to spend a longer period while enjoying similar holiday experiences”.
The Entertainment and Tourism Association of Pattaya City reported a year-on-year decrease in the number of visitors of about 20-30% earlier this month, according to report.
Source: South China Morning Post