A comprehensive new survey of consumers in China’s first-tier cities has concluded that 53% of respondents would like to travel overseas within 2020.

Moreover 71% of those surveyed said they would like to travel to Thailand, with an interesting shift in the data : 83% or the respondents said they would rather choose independent travel versus group tours.

Thailand’s economy’s is highly dependent on Chinese tourism with nearly 11 million Chinese tourists coming to Thailand in 2019.

More than a quarter of inbound arrivals to Thailand are Chinese, and their spending is crucial for the Thai economy : the drop in Chinese tourist numbers from January to April alone could cost the Thai economy $3.05 billion, according to The Tourism Authority of Thailand.

But the Coronavirus crisis is keeping Thailand’s top vacation spenders away with a 95% decline in Chinese visitors in the first quarter of 2020.

Thailand has effectively closed its doors to non-resident foreigners under a state of emergency that came into force on March 26, bringing down tourist entries close to nil.

Data released by the Bank of Thailand shows that tourism is now down from 100 000 to just 1,800 daily entries.

Chinese Tourists Travel Preferences
Chinese Tourists Travel Preferences

Key Takeaway Points

• Most popular Thai destinations Chinese travellers want to visit in order of popularity are Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui and Pattaya.
• Top five preferred booking channels for hotels are Ctrip, Fliggy, hotel website, Booking.com and WeChat.
• Trip budget for 50% of those surveyed was USD2,100 per person.
• In 2019, nearly 11 million Chinese travellers visited Thailand.

While undoubtedly there will be a lingering global fear factor for travellers in the wake of the virus outbreak, Thailand’s favourable door-to-door flying time and vast network of approved routes to the mainland are cited as influential factors. Another is the appreciation of the Chinese Yuan (RMB) against the Thai Baht. 

China Outbound Travel Sentiment
China Outbound Travel Sentiment

We expect Thailand’s reopening trajectory to initially be dominated by the domestic storyline but move quickly into inter-regional travel punctuated by the outbound China sector who are ready and willing to visit the country as demonstrated by the survey results.

C9 Hotelworks Managing Director, Bill Barnett 

The sharp plunge in Chinese tourism income intensifies the pressure on Thailand’s economy, which already felt a squeeze on exports, severe drought in the rural areas, budget delay and from the strong baht.

Forward Outlook

• Chinese Yuan (RMB) has continued to appreciate against the Thai Baht in 2020, after reaching a lowpoint in Q4 2019, thus making travel more attractive.
• Short-haul travel due to flight health concerns is expected to be a key mover in Asia’s travel recovery.
• Thailand’s policy of visa-on-arrival for Chinese travellers is a strong driver of demand.
• Resumption of domestic air travel in China in Q2 is bolstering low-cost airline (LCC) financial liquidity

Rounding out the survey results, the demographics of travellers from China are changing.

“The new China traveller is younger, more independent and more digitally influenced than ever. Covid-19 has had a profound impact on travel consumer mindsets and this generation has a burning desire to experience the world and new digital strategies are needed to reach them.”

To download the China Thailand Travel Sentiment Survey, click on the link below:


About the author

Bangkok Correspondent at Siam News Network

Bangkok Correspondent for Siam News Network. Editor at Thailand Business News

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