Several Chinese airlines, including Air China, China Eastern, and Shanghai Airlines, have cancelled flights to Thailand for December and January due to lower-than-expected bookings.
- Several Chinese airlines have cancelled flights to Thailand for December and January due to lower-than-expected bookings, reflecting China’s economic slowdown and focus on domestic tourism.
- The free visa initiative for Chinese nationals did not significantly boost the Chinese market, indicating that economic issues within China are a primary factor in the decline of Chinese tourists.
- Chinese arrivals to Thailand have only recovered to around 40% compared to pre-Covid times, and the upcoming Chinese New Year bookings remain uncertain, requiring further observation.
The cancellations are attributed to China’s economic slowdown and efforts to boost domestic tourism. Initiatives like granting free visas to Chinese nationals have not resulted in an influx of tourists. Chinese arrivals in Thailand are currently at around 40% compared to pre-Covid times.
The tourism sector in Thailand is expected to fall short of its target of 4 million Chinese arrivals. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) now projects that there will be approximately 3.4-3.5 million tourists from mainland China this year, contributing an estimated 190-196 billion baht to the economy.
The 10 airlines that have cancelled flights are Air China, China Eastern, Shanghai Airlines, Spring Airlines, China Southern, Shenzhen Airlines, Juneyao Airlines, Okay Airways, Hainan Airlines, and Beijing Capital.
Chinese Tourists: A Crucial Source of Revenue
The recovery of the Chinese market is crucial for Thailand’s tourism industry, which contributes about 20% to its GDP and employs millions of people.
Thailand has already welcomed 23 million foreign visitors so far this year, and it is projected that the number will reach 27.6 million by 2023, according to K-Research.
The Thai government originally projected that there would be a total of 3.4 million Chinese visitors for the entire year, which would make up approximately 31% of the total number of visitors in 2019. The implementation of a visa exemption program is expected to further increase these numbers and provide support to the country’s economy.
However, despite efforts to attract Chinese tourists, arrivals have fallen short of the government’s target due to concerns over safety : the recent popularity of the Chinese action film “No More Bets” has led to rumors spreading on social media about the dangers of traveling to Thailand.