Chinese Tourists to Thailand over Chinese New Year set to be up 20% on last Year
Pongpanu Svetarundra, permanent secretary of tourism and sports, said the ministry estimates that 304,000 Chinese tourists will travel to Thailand during Chinese New Year, Feb 15-21.
He said regular and chartered airlines have increased their frequencies between Thailand and mainland China to 20,677 flights during the seven-day period.
To deal with the huge amount of arrivals, the Chinese embassy in Bangkok is sending 40 Chinese students in Thailand to assist immigration officials at Don Mueang airport with translation.
The Immigration Bureau is also increasing staff to help facilitate Chinese visitors who need visas on arrival at the airport during the holiday.
Airports of Thailand Plc, operator of Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports, together with pier operators on the Chao Phraya River and canals in Bangkok, as well as major shopping areas, are tightening up security by adding more guards.
Mr Pongpanu said other organisations such as hospitals and major attractions are preparing to service Chinese tourists by adding more service counters with Chinese-speaking staff.
Weerasak Kowsurat, tourism and sports minister, and Yang Zhijin, the Chinese deputy minister of culture, held a joint celebration yesterday for Chinese New Year in Bangkok.
The Thai minister said China is the top market for Thai inbound tourism. Arrivals from the mainland are expected to increase significantly in the future.
This year, Thailand and China featured cultural exchange performances by more than 100 performers from the provinces of Fujian, Hainan, Inner Mongolia, Shandong, Heilongjiang, Zhejiang, Hunan, Shanxi and Hubei.
Highlights included traditional Chinese dance and music, martial arts and acrobatic performances.
Suparerk Soorangura, president of the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA), said 10.2 million Thais will travel abroad this year, up from 9.8 million in 2017, as many airlines and travel companies have offered promotions since early this year to boost sales.
He said the Chinese New Year period is the high season for outbound tours, along with school breaks and Songkran.
"Key national tourism organisations, airlines and travel operators are promoting Thailand in their sales kits throughout the year," Mr Suparerk said. "This is expected to boost two-way travel between Thailand and popular destinations, including China, Japan and Korea.
"Travel operators are placing packages on social media, and that is working."
The TTAA organised Thai International Travel Fair 2018 during Feb 7-11 in Bangkok, drawing more than 400,000 visitors and generating travel purchases of up to 700 million baht.
Top destinations for Thai tourists at this year's event remained Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.