Thailand’s resorts are grappling with deadly accidents, and environmental preservation as tourist arrival takes a beating, with Phuket Island hit particularly hard after the shipwrecks that killed 47 Chinese tourists on July 5.
At least 7,300 hotel reservations on the island had been canceled through mid-July and according the Bangkok Post the number of Chinese tourists travelling to Thailand is expected to drop by 5-8% this month in the wake of last month’s Phuket boat accident.
As many as 600,000 Chinese tourists cancelled trips to Thailand last month, representing 37 billion baht in revenue lost, according to the Tourism and Sports Ministry.
Pongpanu Svetarundra, the permanent secretary of the ministry, said visitors from mainland China will continue to decrease to 900,000-930,000 this month, representing a 5-8% year-on-year drop.
The boats, loaded with more than 120 people, set sail despite an inclement-weather warning. Thai officials further aroused anger by blaming the Chinese operators for the accidents. Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, a deputy prime minister, called the incidents wholly a case of “Chinese harming Chinese.”
Thai and Chinese tourism authorities are scheduled to meet in Bangkok later this month to discuss preventive safety and security and pin down the real cause of the boat calamity.
China is the biggest source of visitors for Thailand, with 9.8 million Chinese accounting for 28% of total traffic last year. The Thai tourism sector is so desperate to bring back Chinese that a group of travel operators has petitioned the government to temporarily waive visa fees