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Thailand’s tourism at risk with China virus

Chinese holidaymakers spent almost $18 billion in Thailand last year, more than a quarter of all foreign tourism receipts, government data show.

Olivier Languepin

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Foreign tourist arrivals hit a record 39.8 million last year after a rise of 7% to 38.2 million in 2018, but the 41 million target set by the TAT may be difficult to reach as mainland China tours are now prohibited from selling trips abroad.

If the virus outbreak persists for much longer, its impact on Thailand’s tourism industry could be substantial.

The Thai government is targeting 41.8 million tourists in 2020 with estimated revenue of Bt2.2 trillion, which would make Thailand one of the top six countries in terms of income from tourism. 

50 to 100 billion baht loss

But the coronavirus crisis is likely to cost Thailand at least 50 billion baht in lost tourism income associated with China’s blanket ban on tourists leaving its affected cities, according to the Tourism Council of Thailand.

The estimated losses are based on average spending of 50,000 baht per Chinese tourist visiting Thailand, council chairman Chairat Trairattancharatphon said, and a dip of 1 million Chinese visitors.

But other estimates of the impact on tourism and related businesses in Thailand and other Asian nations are around Bt80 billion to Bt100 billion, if the spread of the virus is contained by early March, Anusorn Tamajai, director of Economic and Business Research Centre at Rangsit University, said to The Nation

Tourist revenue had risen 3% to 1.93 trillion baht ($63.49 billion) in 2019, and Visitors from China are Thailand’s biggest source of tourists and receipts, increased by 4.4% to 10.99 million in 2019.

Tourist receipts account for about 12 percent of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, making it one of the most important drivers of growth estimated at 2,5% in 2019.

Chinese holidaymakers spent almost $18 billion in Thailand last year, more than a quarter of all foreign tourism receipts, government data show. The industry as a whole contributes 21% to gross domestic product, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. according to the Bangkok Post.

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