Chinese Travel Is Set to Return. The Question Is, When?

“If we wanted to hire 100 people today, we couldn’t do it because we weren’t sure,” he said. “I don’t know, maybe in the next two months the Chinese government will say, ‘We will close the border again.'”

With an economy heavily dependent on tourism, Thailand has lost tens of billions of dollars in spending by Chinese tourists over the past three years. The Chiang Mai Tourism Board’s office estimates that the city, known for its beautiful Buddhist temples and heavy reliance on tourism, will welcome around 600,000 Chinese visitors back this year, but people will spend about $230 million – about half the total compared to 2019.

The real numbers won’t start until the second quarter, Thai tourism insiders said. Traditionally, many Chinese tourists come to Thailand on group tours (they make up about half of all Chinese visitors in Chiang Mai) and the Chinese government won’t allow tour operators to launch. reopen their business until February 6, and then only under a pilot program with about two dozen countries, including Thailand. Currently, only independent Chinese tourists who can afford expensive airline tickets make the trips.

But not everyone is ready to welcome back group tours. Even before Covid, operators in Thailand and China had seen a reversal of the group travel trend and a shift towards more tech-savvy Chinese travelers equipped with apps. Use booking and experiences to make your own trips.

Over the past decade, while the total number of Chinese tourists has increased, group tours have dwindled amid a crackdown on so-called cheap zero-dong tours in Phuket, the 40-mile-long island on the shore. west coast of peninsular Thailand. Often illegal tax evasion activities, the tours are often controlled by Chinese investors who own buses, hotels, restaurants, spas and gift shops, siphoning off their expenses. consumption by tourists from local people. They are known for forcing customers to buy expensive souvenirs at stores they control.

Nantida Atiset, a Phuket hotelier and vice president of the Phuket Tourism Association, said: “I don’t think we will have many more large tour groups. “I think they will come back, of course. It’s just a matter of how big they’ll come back.”

In London, another popular destination for Chinese tourists, more than 300,000 people visited Chinatown last week for the first Lunar New Year parade since the coronavirus pandemic, but few visitors China is present.


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