Thailand may face an uphill battle in achieving the desired influx of arrivals from the Chinese mainland through its upcoming visa-free scheme, primarily due to several factors.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) reported that the seat capacity for Chinese flights in the final quarter is around 400,000 seats, which is 50% lower than the capacity during the same period in 2019.
This is likely to impede Thailand’s plan to increase the number of Chinese tourists to 700,000 per month through a visa-free policy, Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, stated.
Consequently, achieving the year-end goal of 5 million tourists will be challenging, as the current monthly arrivals of 350,000 have to practically double, he pointed out.
Moreover, Mr. Sisdivachr highlighted that many Chinese citizens have faced challenges when applying for passports. This poses an additional hurdle that the Thai government cannot address without assistance from Beijing.
A widespread concern about safety among Chinese travelers also further complicates the achievement of desired results for the visa-free plan. These concerns stem from various fake news stories widely circulated on Chinese media such as organ thefts.
Although Thailand has made some progress towards its 5-million goal, with 2.28 million arrivals recorded between January 1st and September 10th, it is facing substantial challenges that need to be addressed.
Many tourism operators, especially in Phuket, have shifted their hope to Kazakh tourists, who will also benefit from this.
The TAT expects that Thailand will receive a record high of 180,000-200,000 Kazakh tourists this year.
According to Phuket Airport Immigration, they witnessed a 580% surge in visitors from Kazakhstan, reaching 76,421 during the first half of this year.
Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, TAT deputy governor for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas, said that Kazakh tourists had an average spending of 4,365 baht per person per day and an average length of stay of 14 days, holding a high potential.
They also represent the most rapidly expanding market for Thailand, as they tend to visit not only during winter but also in the summer months.
As of September 10th, the number of Kazakh arrivals stood at 108,636, a significant increase from 56,000 in 2019.
Mr. Siripakorn mentioned, “The visa-free scheme is likely to encourage Kazakh tourists to extend their stay, particularly during the upcoming winter season when airfares tend to be high.”
He further stated that scheduled flights between Thailand and Kazakhstan will see an increase to 14 per week starting from October, evenly distributed between Bangkok and Phuket.
Furthermore, he anticipated that Phuket will experience an additional 10 chartered flights per week from first- and second-tier cities in Kazakhstan.
Original article: Bangkok Post