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China boosts Tourism in Thailand close to 30 million in 2015

In 2016, the Thai government expects Chinese visitors to account for even a larger proportion of the record 32 million people forecast to visit.

Olivier Languepin

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Thailand managed to attract just under 30 million international visitors in 2015, according to final figures released by the Tourism Department.

These 29,881,091 foreign arrivals represented an increase of 20.4% over the 24.81 million who visited in 2014, statistics posted on the department’s website showed.

The Thailand tourism industry has been defiantly strong despite challenges such as the Bangkok bombing at a busy central intersection last August which killed 20 and injured more than 120 people, reported Reuters.

Famous for delectable street food and maze-like shopping markets, Bangkok’s tourists stayed a cumulative total of 107 million nights and spent $15.2 billion in 2015, according to the Destinations Index.

Thailand came out on top as the most popular regional travel destination last year, with three of its cities making the top ten in MasterCard’s Asia Pacific Destinations Index 2015.

Bangkok was the most popular city by arrivals, total nights stayed and total amount spent, according to a MasterCard survey based on findings sourced primarily from national tourism boards.

This performance has a lot to do with the influx of Chinese tourists arriving in Thailand, with visitor numbers to the kingdom surging over the past year at one of the fastest rates in the Asia-Pacific region.

Arrivals from China soared 71% last year to 7.93 million, representing 26.5% of all international tourists.

Growth from East Asia overall was 36%, helped by a strong performance from Malaysia, up 31% to 3.42 million and accounting for 11% of all visitors. Japan and Korea each accounted for 4.6% of the total with arrivals from the former up 9% and the latter up 22.3%.

European arrivals declined 8.6% overall to 5.63 million, including a 45% plunge from economically troubled Russia to 884,085.

Among other large European markets, German arrivals were up 6.3% to 760,604 and UK tourists totaled 946,919, an increase of 4.3%.

Arrivals from the Americas grew 12.3% to 1.23 million, led by a strong gain of 13.6% from the United States, to 867,520 visitors.South Asia has also become a more promising market with 13.3% growth last year.

Visitor numbers from India edged above 1 million for the first time, up 14.6% from a year earlier.

However, arrivals from Oceania fell 2.3%, led by a 3.1% decline in Australian visitor numbers to 805,946. Visitor numbers from Africa declined 1.7% to 161,640, while Middle East arrivals expanded 10% to 658,129.

In 2016, the Thai government expects Chinese visitors to account for even a larger proportion of the record 32 million people forecast to visit. “What’s ultimately driving Thailand is the Chinese,” said Matthew Driver, MasterCard’s Asia-Pacific group executive for products and solutions.

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