Chinese tourists in particular are surging into Thailand in vast numbers, despite recent bad publicity.
Worries that highly publicised incidents and accidents involving tourists such as the Phuket boat tragedy would affect arrivals, particularly from China, have proven unfounded.
Thailand saw a record 38.3 million tourists in 2018, the latest figures from the Ministry of Tourism & Sports show.
Chinese tourists are surging back to Thailand, following a brief slowdown after the tour boat tragedy which raised concerns about the country’s safety standards.
Thailand welcomed more than 10 million Chinese tourists during the year for the first time, solidifying China’s place as the country’s top source market, TTG Asia writes.
It is now gearing up to welcome Chinese visitors with its “most festive Chinese New Year celebration ever” during the Lunar New Year holiday next week, says Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand – in a year when the two countries mark the 44th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
“TAT expects to welcome over 330,000 Chinese tourists during the seven-day period [February 4 to 10],” the governor adds.
“They represent more than 30% of the overall total of 1.03 million international arrivals that are expected to visit Thailand over Chinese New Year.”
The record arrivals for Thailand are a continuation of the country’s surging growth over the last decade, despite the authorities saying they are no longer setting arrivals targets.
The travel trade has repeatedly expressed its worries about overtourism and capacity issues in the country’s most popular destinations and congested airports. If the trend continues, the total arrivals will exceed 41 million in 2019.
“If we actually really reach that level, I’ll have a headache,” tourism minister Weerasak Kowsurat was recently quoted as saying in an article in the Bangkok Post.