China no longer Thailand's largest source of tourists in 2023

By Hoang Phong    January 3, 2024 | 03:11 pm PT
China no longer Thailand's largest source of tourists in 2023
Tourists visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, on Jan. 7, 2023. Photo by Reuters
Malaysia has surpassed China to become the biggest feeder market for Thailand tourism in 2023 with 4.56 million arrivals.

Chinese tourists came in second with 3.51 million, followed by South Koreans (1.65 million), Indians (1.62 million), and Russians (1.48 million), according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Travel between Malaysia and Thailand, two ASEAN members, is faciliated by visa exemption.

Before the pandemic, Chinese tourists were the biggest market of Thailand's tourism industry. In 2019, over 11 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand, accounting for more than a quarter of its total foreign arrivals.

However, a mall shooting last September in Bangkok that killed two foreigners including a Chinese affected Chinese tourist confidence. A series of Chinese carriers canceled flights to Thailand for December and January due to low demand.

A quarterly travel sentiment survey released last November by Singapore-based digital marketing firm China Trading Desk found Thailand no longer a top choice of Chinese tourists. The survey polled over 10,000 Chinese residents on their upcoming international travel plans and their top answers were Singapore, Europe and South Korea.

Amid falling number of Chinese tourists, Thai Prime Minister SretthaThavisin announced on Tuesday that Thailand and China would permanently waive visa requirements for each other's citizens starting March.

Last year Thailand received 28 million foreign arrivals and generated tourism revenues of 1.2 trillion baht (US$35.03 trillion).

This year it is targeting 35 million foreign tourists.

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