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Chinese boost Thai tourism in first half year

20 August 2015 - Travel Daily Asia, Mark Elliott

The surge in the number of Chinese visitors to Thailand in the first half of 2015 is seen to boost the Kingdom’s economic recovery.

According to the latest data released by the Thai Ministry of Tourism & Sports, more than four million Chinese visitors travelled to Thailand in the first six months of the year, up 111.6% year-on-year, although this was in comparison to a poor first half in 2014. Spending by Chinese visitors jumped 138.9% to THB190.92 billion (US$5.4bn).

This makes China by the far the largest source market for Thailand, both in terms of arrivals and receipts.

Thailand suffered a troubled 2014, as street protests, a military coup and martial law contributed to a sharp decline in visitor arrivals. But the country appears to be rebounding strongly in 2015, with overseas arrivals climbing 29.5% the first half of 2015 and tourism receipts increasing 29.7%.

Following China, Malaysia (+57.9% to 1.7m), Japan (+16.8% to 675,800), South Korea (+19.7% to 638,300) and Laos (+20.7% to 565,600) were Thailand’s other top source markets in the first half. Indian arrivals also saw double-digit growth (+17.0% to 526,100), while Russia was the country’s largest European source market, despite a 50.4% slump in visitor numbers, to 466,500).

Arrivals from the UK increased 2.7% to 462,600 and US visitor numbers climbed 12.2% to 427,000.

In terms of tourism receipts, Malaysia (+64.6% to THB39.8bn), the UK (+4.6% to THB32.5bn), Russia (-50.4% to THB31.8bn) and the US (+15.8% to THB29.9bn) followed China as Thailand’s other top spenders.

For the full year, Thailand is targeting 28.8m visitor arrivals and THB1.4 trillion in tourism revenues.

The country recently announced plans to attract more “quality” visitors, with a higher average expenditure and longer length-of-stay.