Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Sluggish Chinese tourists’ influx hurts Thailand economy


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Chinese Tourists Slow to Return to Southeast Asia, Impacting Tourism-Dependent Economies

Chinese tourists remain hesitant to return to Southeast Asian countries, despite visa-free travel incentives. This reluctance has resulted in a decline in economies heavily reliant on tourism, and businesses are being forced to reconsider their expansion plans. The number of Chinese visitors to countries like Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam has significantly decreased since the pre-COVID-19 era. Even those who do visit tend to be more budget-conscious, negotiating for larger discounts, ultimately impacting the profits of hospitality businesses.

Thailand Struggles to Entice Chinese Travelers Amidst Slow Recovery

Thailand, in particular, is determined to allure Chinese travelers back in order to aid its economic recovery. However, during China’s Golden Week holiday, cross-border traffic remained lower than pre-pandemic levels. Prior to the pandemic, over 10 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand annually, making the country heavily reliant on Chinese visitors. Efforts have been made by the government to attract visitors, including the elimination of visa fees for Chinese tourists from September 26 for a duration of five months. Nonetheless, recent incidents like the shooting at a Bangkok shopping mall may further discourage Chinese tourists. As a result, some businesses are now refocusing their attention on Indian tourists to compensate for the lack of Chinese visitors.

Businesses Adapt as Chinese Tourist Market Remains Uncertain

The slow recovery of Chinese outbound tourism continues to pose challenges for businesses. Chinese tourists who do venture abroad are displaying a heightened emphasis on budget-consciousness, actively seeking larger discounts. As a result, hospitality businesses are experiencing a decline in earnings. Countries like Thailand are left grappling to combat this uncertainty, as their tourism industry heavily depends on Chinese visitors. To fill the void left by the absence of Chinese tourists, companies are exploring alternative markets, such as targeting Indian tourists, to sustain their operations.

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