Crackdown on cheap package tours hits Thai tourism

Published on : Thursday, January 12, 2017

Tourism Authority of ThailandFor the Lunar New Year, Chinese hotel bookings to Thailand have plummeted as a result of crackdown on cheap package tours hitting visitor numbers from its biggest source of holiday-makers. Tourism is very important for Thailand given that its economic growth lags other Southeast Asian economies. Between 2012 and 2016, number of Chinese visitors trebled to nearly a third of all Thailand’s tourists by numbers and revenue.

However, this crackdown on package tours has sent that increase downwards, with little chance of recovery. Many hotels are reporting less number of bookings and visitor numbers. Thailand’s tourism authority expects a 7.7% drop in Chinese tourists for the Lunar New Year this year. Many tour operators are of the opinion that the government’s firmness on a minimum 1,000 baht (23 pounds) per night charge for package tourists had made Thailand uncompetitive for many Chinese visitors. As a result, Chinese visitor numbers fell 30% in November from the year before. Part of that drop was due to a one-month mourning period following the Oct. 13th death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. However, Thailand hopes that Chinese tourist numbers will recover to reach nine million by the end of 2017. By targeting wealthier Chinese travellers, revenue from China will increase over 14% this year to around 500 billion baht, according to Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn.

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