Tourism Council of Thailand eyes October for return of Chinese tourists

Chinese tourists take a group photo at the Grand Palace in Bangkok. File photo.

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.

Vichit also projected that Thailand would regain 70% of its pre-pandemic tourist numbers next year and 100% by 2024.

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.

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.