According to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the number of Chinese tourist arrivals to Thailand grew for the fourth consecutive month in August to 983,000 and reverted to double-digit growth for the first time in 10 months at 10.3 percent YoY. As a result, the total number of Chinese holidaymakers here during 8M17 reached 6.63 million, declining slightly by 0.4 percent YoY.
We at KResearch expect that more Chinese tourists will continue to visit Thailand over the remainder of 2017, supported by a long Chinese National Day holiday (October 1-8, 2017). According to a leading Chinese travel service website, Ctrip, some 6 million Chinese are planning to travel abroad during that time and their most favorite destination booked via its website is Thailand, followed by Japan and the US. KResearch has assessed that there will be approximately 330,000 Chinese holidaymakers in Thailand during that holiday.
Due to the growing number of outbound Chinese tourists and unresolved China-South Korea issues, which have affected the number of Chinese vacationers planning to visit South Korea, Chinese tour agents have to find new destinations to replace South Korea. Also, as China is Thailand's largest inbound tourism market, travel-related businesses here place importance on marketing activities towards this market as do many Thai financial institutions and retail businesses, which have introduced Alipay and WeChat Pay payment services to facilitate their spending here.
We at KResearch have revised upward our projection on the number of Chinese tourist arrivals to Thailand in 2017 to 9.70 million, versus the 9.20-9.40 million thought before, growing 10 percent YoY over the 10.5 percent growth reported for 2016. They may spend some THB510 billion in Thailand, increasing 12.9 percent YoY, versus the 15.2 percent recorded for 2016.
Notwithstanding this, travel businesses here are advised that it is no longer easy to market to Chinese tourists as before. They must have good marketing plans in place to cope with the intense competition coming from other countries that receive many Chinese travelers, plus the changing behavior of Chinese tourists themselves. Other issues that they must monitor closely include China's policy of promoting domestic tourism during 2016-2020, which will inevitably be a challenge for Thailand towards maintaining growth in the number of Chinese tourist arrivals, ahead.