The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has lowered its target of Chinese visitors to 3.4-3.5 million this year, following slower recovery from the pandemic and concerns about news of spreading respiratory illness in children in northern China.
Earlier this year, Thailand dreamt to welcome as much as 5-7 million of Chinese tourists in 2023, which would be a significant rise compared to the time during Covid-19, but still short of the 11-million arrivals recorded in 2019 prior to the pandemic. The figure was cut to around 4 million after seeing slow recovery in China, but hoped that the free-visa scheme introduced in late September could give a spark in the final quarter.
The number did increase, but not to the level of satisfaction. Now, the World Health Organization is requesting an official clarification from the Chinese government about an increasing number of reports of respiratory illness in children in northern China, including pneumonia.
The authority is now expecting to see 8.2 million Chinese tourists in 2024 that could bring 452 billion baht of spending.
China has been a key source of income for the tourism industry in Thailand and a small rise in tourist arrivals caused a major concern to the Prime Minister of Thailand, Srettha Thavisin.
He said yesterday that Thailand needs more major stimulus to get out of this “crisis”.
“There needs to be a big economic stimulus,” said Srettha, while adding that the government will prioritize attracting foreign investment and addressing household debt.
Thailand recorded 22.2 million foreign tourists from January to October, while adding additional 1.65 million arrivals from November 1-19 with total spending of 1 trillion baht. The slower-than-expected inbound will result in Thailand missing its target for 28 million arrivals for 2023, which had been cut from 30 million projected early this year. It is still far less than nearly 40 million foreign arrivals in 2019, which spent 1.91 trillion baht before the Covid-19 derailed that growth.