Thailand is one of the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists, who accounted for nearly 30% of the total international arrivals in 2019.

In every country in Southeast Asia, Chinese tourists make up a substantial number of arrivals every year. Because of that, pretty much since outbound travel from China dried up at the onset of the pandemic, tourism and hospitality professionals have had just one question on their lips: when will they be coming back?

When will they be coming back?

And nowhere is that question more keenly felt than in tourism-reliant Thailand, where Chinese travelers made up a quarter of the nearly 40 million arrivals in 2019. 

The Chinese government eased controls on outbound travel on January 8 of this year, resulting in a huge increase in demand for bookings. But numbers are still far off pre-pandemic levels. The economic situation in China and competition from other international and domestic destinations are only part of the explanation. Reduced airline capacity is another. But there are many other factors to consider as well.

With 5 million Chinese tourists expected in Thailand this year (just half the 2019 numbers) and projections that 2023 spending by Chinese tourists will be even lower at just 36 percent of pre-Covid levels, the industry is still trying to understand how this impacts the way it does business, grappling with questions like the desirability of high volumes of visitors and social and environmental sustainability. 

How much does it matter to tourism markets in Southeast Asia?

Has domestic and regional travel behavior changed? Will emerging markets like India, Russia and Saudi Arabia take up the slack? And what does the future look like for the tourism industry?

To discuss these and other timely issues, and to take questions from the audience, the FCCT is pleased to welcome the following panelists. 

Varut Kanchanapattana, board member and honorary treasurer of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA), head of public relations, the professional group for in-bound travel agents in Thailand.

Gary Bowerman, director of the travel intelligence and strategy consultancy Check-in Asia and co-host of podcast The South East Asia Travel Show.

Vivian Zhao Jingnan, deputy editor at Sing Sian Yer Pao, a leading Chinese-language newspaper published in Thailand, and freelance journalist for the China News Service’s Thailand office.

Monday, 11 September, 7pm. at The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand

Penthouse, Maneeya Center
518/5 Ploenchit Road
(connected to the BTS Skytrain
Chitlom station)
Patumwan, Bangkok 10330

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