6 June 2024

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is optimistic that its target of 4 million Chinese arrivals by yearend will be achieved, despite the recent shootings at the Siam Paragon shopping mall in Bangkok and the Israel-Hamas war. Tour operators are, however, urging the government to extend visa exemption to Indian tourists, in addition to those from China and Uzbekistan, which they hope will help meet the target of 25-30 million tourist arrivals for the whole year.

According to TAT Governor Thapanee Kiatphaibool, the Siam Paragon shootings, in which a Chinese and a Myanmar national were killed, has had a short-term impact on Chinese tourists’ sentiment, as evidenced by the lack of cancellations by incentive and seminar groups , although some tour groups and individual tourists have postponed or cancelled their visits.

The TAT has also stepped up its publicity campaign to boost the image of Thailand, especially as regards the safety of visitors. The TAT will launch a marketing campaign to promote major events in Thailand for the third quarter of the year, including the Loy Krathong festival in November.

As for a visa free measure for tourists from India, the TAT will first assess the results of the visa exemption for tourists from China and Kazakhstan, which may take up to 2 months, before deciding whether to extend the same privilege to tourists from other countries, according to the TAT.

Israel is a small tourism market for Thailand, with about 200,000 arrivals expected by yearend, which is similar to the pre-COVID market, but their average spending is about 70,000 baht per head, which is higher than the other foreign tourists, averaging about 48,000 baht per head per trip.

The TAT believes that the war in Israel may impact family group visits, who are sensitive to security problems. The TAT has plans to sign letters of intent this month with seven major Chinese tour operators, including Spring Airlines and online tour agents, to bring more Chinese tourists to Thailand.

According to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the number of Chinese tourist arrivals between October 2nd and 8th dropped to 75,093 from 106,472 a week earlier, partly due to the mall shootings, the end of the long Chinese National Day long holidays and the opening of the new school term in China.

Foreign tourist arrivals from other countries also dropped by 54,453 (9.86%) from the 497,966 between September 25th and October 1st

The top five tourist arrivals (by nationality) were:

  • Malaysia, 76,432 (-20.43%)
  • China, 75,093 (-29.47%)
  • India, 34,020 (-8.22%)
  • South Korea, 30,742 (-26.77%)
  • Laos, 24,030 (-1.16%)

Accumulated tourist arrivals this year, up to October 8th, were 20,549,501, generating revenues totalling about 861.8 billion baht.