Visa-free regime boosts Chinese interest and sentiment, while caution arises given last year’s pattern. Russian tourists with 90-day stays contribute to the robust influx, generating ฿97.911 billion in income.

Thailand’s Tourism Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakitkoson this week revealed that numbers so far in 2024 are encouraging. The kingdom is on target to welcome 3.17 million visitors for the month of January. Significantly, there was a rise in Chinese arrivals although a similar pattern was seen in 2023. The kingdom is targeting 33.5 million arrivals for the year, up from 28 million seen in 2023. 

Minister of Tourism and Sports Sudawan Wang-Suphakitkosol on Wednesday revealed figures for the first three weeks of January to January 21st. The data shows a surge in Chinese visitors.

This week, Ms Sudawan, Minister of Tourism and Sports revealed that from January 15-21, 2024 Thailand received a total of 715,579 foreign tourists. In effect, an increase of 20,753 people from the previous week, or equivalent to 2.99%.

In short, Thailand averaged 102,226 arrivals per day. At the beginning of the week, the Ministry of Finance projected 33.5 million foreign tourists this year.

China back at the top of the table for January 2024. The figures emphasise the shift to Asian arrivals although there was also a rise in Western visitors

The top 5 countries were China 120,381 people, Malaysia 73,085 people, South Korea 55,218 people, Russia 48,114 people, and India 40,300 people. 

Chinese, Indian and South Korean tourists all increased from the previous week with Malaysian tourists and Russian decreasing.

The pattern confirms the shift in the country’s tourism market towards Asian visitors.

Significantly, this is normally a period when Western and European tourists flock to Thailand. However, the ministry emphasised that more visitors were seen last week from Western countries. 

The ministry was confident about the trend based on flight bookings. It expects a rising number of foreign tourists until the end of the month.

Sentiment towards foreign travel improved in China

In particular, there was a rise in Chinese travellers. Certainly, the number of outbound flights from China has risen at this time. 

Minister Sudawan welcomed a rise in Chinese interest in travelling abroad. She explained that there was a growing desire among Chinese people to visit international destinations.

Presently, there is a visa-free regime for Chinese tourists. This is expected to be extended on a permanent basis after March 1st 2024. 

However, observers urge caution.

Last year, the Chinese market was also exceptionally positive up until the Chinese New Year. At length, this year, the Year of the Dragon begins on February 10th 2024.

Russian tourists can stay for 90 days

In the meantime, visa-free access for Kazakhstan extends until February 29th 2024. At the same time, Russian tourists can stay in Thailand for 90 days up to 10 May 2024.

The total number of foreign tourists from 1-21 Jan. 2024 totaled 2,015,942 people. 

In turn, they generated an income of ฿97.911 billion. The top 5 highest numbers of tourists were China 306,805 people, Malaysia 218,453 people, South Korea 153,135 people, Russia 150,286 people, and India 105,740 people.

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