85% Chinese refuse to travel to ASEAN countries over safety concerns: Weibo

By Hoang Vu   November 29, 2023 | 02:27 am PT
85% Chinese refuse to travel to ASEAN countries over safety concerns: Weibo
Tourists visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, on Jan. 7, 2023. Photo by Reuters
A survey on Chinese social media platform Weibo revealed 85% of 54,000 Chinese people would not travel to ASEAN countries for fears of safety following the release of a Chinese action movie.

The crime action film "No More Bets," which has topped the Chinese box office since its release in early August, has tarnished tourism reputation of Southeast Asian countries including Thailand, Prime Minister's Office Puangpet Chunlaiad said during a meeting with Chinese ambassador Han Zhiqiang.

Myanmar and Cambodia's images have also been affected, with Cambodia having banned the film.

The movie portrayed Thailand with illegal activities, including human trafficking, organ trade, call center scams, and extortion gangs, potentially affecting Chinese tourists' perceptions of safety, Puangpet said as cited by the National News Bureau of Thailand.

Though the movie was not shot in Thailand, it featured the Thai language in some scenes, leading to misunderstandings on the Chinese social media platform Weibo.

The Thai government hoped Chinese authorities would reassure Chinese citizens about the film’s inaccuracy and emphasize Thailand’s strict safety measures for tourists, Puangpet said.

China has been a key source market for Thailand's vital tourism industry, with 11 million Chinese visitors in pre-pandemic 2019, accounting for more than a quarter of all arrivals that year.

But the country is no longer a top choice of Chinese tourists, according to a quarterly travel sentiment survey released by Singapore-based digital marketing firm China Trading Desk that polled over 10,000 Chinese residents on their upcoming international travel plans.

About 3.01 million Chinese tourists have visited the country so far this year.

Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy expects to welcome 3.4-3.5 million Chinese arrivals this year, below the initial target of 5 million.

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