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Many hotels remain empty - Chinese tourists avoid Thailand

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After ten million last year, the number of Chinese tourists in Thailand has plummeted. Some tourism professionals see this as an opportunity.

Coconut ice cream, harem pants printed with elephants, mango sticky rice and slippers in the shape of a fish: there is all sorts of things to buy at the Chatuchak market. Bangkok's weekend market is in every travel guide and on many tourists' to-do lists. At a stall, Toy sells Thai clothes made from raw cotton.

The Chinese have been her best customers in recent years, she says: "They have always bought a lot." But just over a year ago they suddenly disappeared and have not returned in the same number since then.

Thailand is more expensive for the Chinese than it used to be

It sounds similar at other stands. Most tourists still come from China, but this year nine percent fewer individual tourists came. The number of group trips has even slumped by 40 percent.

The trade conflict between the USA and China probably plays a major role, says Pornthip Hirunkate, Vice President of the Tourism Association of Thailand. In addition, the Thai currency, the baht, has recently gained in value. "For the Chinese, holidays in Thailand are 20 percent more expensive today than they were recently."

Bad image among the Chinese after an accident

In addition to the ailing Chinese economy, there is a tragic accident: In July 2018, a boat with 100 Chinese passengers sank near Phuket. Almost half of them drowned. The videos posted by the survivors spread quickly on social media. From that day on, Thailand was considered unsafe.

As a result, many Chinese tourists canceled their trip to Thailand, leaving thousands of hotel rooms empty. This was a major blow for the Thai tourism industry, which contributes ten percent to the country's economic output.

Chinese as a lump risk

In a sense, such a slump was to be expected sooner or later, says Bill Barnett, director of hotel consulting firm C9 Hotelworks. "Because of their large numbers, the Chinese are the gold donkeys - but it is never good to focus on just one target group."

Now the hotel providers in Thailand would have to come up with something and develop new products. According to Barnett, Thailand could position itself as a wedding, wellness or sports destination. «The demands of tourists are changing; and the offer has to adapt to it. "

An opportunity for the tourism industry

The Thai tourism association therefore encourages the tourism industry to be more creative and to make their offers more special. Tourism expert Hirunkate says that today tourists are no longer satisfied with a few selfies in the temple. They also wanted to talk to the monk and maybe even meditate.

After all: For Hirunkate, the current crisis could also be a turning point, an opportunity for Thailand's tourism. "We have to ask ourselves: do we want mass or quality?" Mass tourism has ruined the beaches and nature. And the focus was so much on the Chinese that they drove out the Europeans with their noisy manner.

“We have to change all of that,” Hirunkate is convinced. The goal must be, not more Bringing tourists into the country, but more mindful people who have more money.

Thailand is less attractive to the Chinese

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The number of trips abroad by Chinese has not decreased overall in the last year, says SRF China correspondent Martin Aldrovandi. According to official statistics, the Chinese made 150 million trips abroad in 2018 alone. However, the decline in Thailand actually has to do with the fact that holidays in the country have become more expensive for the Chinese in recent years. “Mass tourism reacts very well to price developments,” he says.

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  • Comment from Andy Schmid (andy)
    There would be much more important things to report about Thailand + uncovering grievances, which SRF deliberately fails to do for an almost 70 million nation. These grievances are largely complicit in the dwindling tourism + why things have been going wrong in Thailand for decades. I could enumerate here without end what is not under control + also keeps tourists away (e.g. greatest corruption in the military government) - I would be happy to leave this to the SRF Southeast Asia correspondent.
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Comment from Matthias Hauser (alp51)
    Thailand has long since committed itself to mass tourism. With fatal consequences for the once so beautiful tropical paradise: Concreted beaches, dirt and noise everywhere. It is no longer worth flying there, even if the Chinese stay away. Holidays in Switzerland or elsewhere in Europe: A good alternative and even more climate-friendly!
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Comment from Jo Meyer (JoMey)
    Super......
    They should all come to Switzerland, the tourism manager is already looking forward to it.
    Agree agree to the comment
    1. answer from Hans Maag (Maag Hans)
      The same applies to Switzerland as to Thailand! More, especially one-sided more, does not necessarily mean better in the long term.
      Agree agree to the comment
    2. answer from Hans Maag (Maag Hans)
      It is also important to be ready for changes in flight behavior due to the climate debate. Under certain circumstances, one can hope for more European tourists again.
      Agree agree to the comment
    3. answer from Franz NANNI (igwena ndlovu)
      Yes, incredibly sustainable ... or!
      Agree agree to the comment
    4. Show answers

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