China is Thailand's major inbound tourist market that has been expanding steadily over recent years. Most Chinese tourist arrivals typically visit Thailand during festivities throughout the year. The upcoming Lunar New Year will definitely help bolster their arrivals, being mainly group tours, to Thailand during 1Q16.
KResearch views that Chinese group tours will continue to choose Thailand as a favored holiday destination during that festival, as are Japan and South Korea.
Given this, we at KResearch expect that some 340,000 Chinese tourists, up 22.0 percent YoY, should be visiting Thailand during the Lunar New Year. This would put the total number of their arrivals in 1Q16 at 2.37 million, up 18.4 percent YoY, versus the 93.3 percent YoY growth recorded in 1Q15. Their most favored destination here would still be Bangkok, plus Phuket and Chiang Mai.
Due to steady growth in the number of Chinese free independent travelers (FIT) to Thailand, travel-related businesses here are advised to penetrate this segment further because they tend to spend twice as much as general tourist travelers. Such efforts should help expand our high-end tourist market substantially, while relevant authorities are promoting campaigns to attract more Chinese tourists to revisit Thailand. By tapping into Chinese FITs, services offered here may have to be altered to meet their needs. For instance, online media platforms in both Chinese and English should be introduced to effectively reach this segment since they search for travel information online, including flights and accommodation bookings now very much the norm via the internet.
The Chinese FIT market looks bright ahead due to their digital lifestyles. As a result, travel businesses in Thailand should use various digital platforms as a means to reach targeted Chinese clientele, e.g., travel applications that will be convenient for them. Young Chinese FITs represent a lucrative market because of their high purchasing power and enthusiasm towards new foreign travel experiences.