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Zero dollar no more : Desperately seeking the 10th Million (quality) Chinese Tourist

China is Thailand’s largest source of visitor arrivals, with 7.9 million visitors in 2015 and a projection of 10 million in 2016.

TAT has invited more than 100 local tour operators in Bangkok and Pattaya to join. They have been encouraged to classify their tour packages in Silver, Gold and Premium categories to make it easier for the Chinese agents to sell.

With the ubiquitous “Land of Smiles” advertising slogan promoted around the world, Thailand has become one of the best-known international tourist destinations. Yet despite a large number of arrivals by Chinese tourists, Thailand is not getting the expected economic benefits.

Thailand’s earlier projection of ten million Chinese tourist arrivals this year is likely to fall short of target due to a sharp drop of tourists from China as a result of the government’s crackdown on zero-dollar package tours from China, said Mr Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn, president of Pattaya Tourism Association, on Sunday.

He pointed out that air ticket bookings to Thailand in China saw 70-80 percent cancellations just as advance bookings of hotels in Bangkok and Pattaya substantially dropped since the crackdown.

Although high season has already arrived in Pattaya since October which will last until next April, the number of Chinese tourists visiting the resort city of Pattaya which is most popular among the Chinese has visibly dropped with two- and three-star hotels most affected, said Mr Sinchai.

European tourists have increased but their numbers are still small, he added.

The last few years have seen a huge surge in visitor numbers from China, Thailand would like to see the sustainable growth in tourist arrivals from China by focussing on quality rather than quantity.

Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul told reporters that visitor arrivals rose 1.8 percent in October from a year earlier, or about 1.9 million.

“Visitor numbers in October were still positive but there were five days missing and we will get them later,” she said, noting the preliminary data captured only 26 days.

“For the whole year, we still expect to achieve our 32 million target. But I don’t want you to focus on the numbers but rather on revenue,” she said.

Despite this success the tourism industry in Thailand is not without problems and controversy. Critics charge that tourism promotion in Thailand has aimed at quantity rather than quality along with the environmental effects of unbridled tourism development.

maya-bay-packed-feat
Maya Bay beach around Koh Phi Phi

Several of Thailand’s best-known islands are now closed indefinitely due to concerns of both damages from tourists and coral bleaching connected to climate change.

 

Zero-dollar no more

TAT officials met with representatives of main aviation companies deserving China on 6 October, 2016, to secure their agreement and cooperation to promote quality tourism from China.

In August 2016 Tourist police raided five Bangkok companies alleged to be the country’s biggest “zero-dollar tour” network operating illegal, poor-quality package tours and related businesses catering mostly to Chinese visitors.

The Tourist Police seized assets of OA Transport over the company’s allegedly inappropriate operations. The company controlled more than 3,000 tourist buses in the country.

Zero-dollar package tours are tourism services provided by unscrupulous Chinese tour companies in collusion with their Thai partners.

They usually sell package tours to Chinese tourists below costs. But upon arrival in Thailand, the tourists will be taken to souvenir or jewelry shops which overcharge them heavily to recoup the below-cost packages.

TAT organises fam trip for Chinese travel trade to update quality of tour products

TAT has invited more than 100 local tour operators in Bangkok and Pattaya to join. They have been encouraged to classify their tour packages in Silver, Gold and Premium categories to make it easier for the Chinese agents to sell.

China is Thailand’s largest source of visitor arrivals, with 7.9 million visitors in 2015 and a projection of 10 million in 2016.

A total of 105 tour operators and product managers from China visited Thailand as part of a sponsored trip to explore the diverse range of high-quality tourist attractions and services in different parts of the country.

The “Product Manager Business Trip 2016” between 29 October-4 November, 2016, was organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in cooperation with partner airlines to help the Chinese tour operators update their offers to their respective guests and clients. The trip covers products and services in Bangkok, Rayong, Pattaya and Samui.

The trip was supported by Thai Airways International, Bangkok Airways, Thai AirAsia, Thai Smile Airways, Nok Scoot Airline, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Spring Airlines, Hainan Airlines, and the Airports of Thailand (AOT).

TAT officials met with representatives of all these aviation companies on 6 October, 2016, to secure their agreement and cooperation to promote quality tourism from China.

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