Chinese airlines cancel flights to Thailand amid falling demand

By Hoang Vu   November 27, 2023 | 03:22 pm PT
Chinese airlines cancel flights to Thailand amid falling demand
A Chinese tourist is welcomed by Thai traditional puppets during a welcome ceremony of the first batch of Chinese tourists under a five-month visa-free entry scheme at Bangkok's International Airport, Thailand, Sept. 25, 2023. Photo by Reuters
A series of Chinese carriers have canceled flights to Thailand for December and January due to low travel demand despite visa waiver efforts.

Suttipong Kongpool, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand, said 10 Chinese airlines had notified of the cancelation of flights to Thailand from next month to January 2024, the Nation Thailand reported.

Initially, nearly 11,000 flights were scheduled for December, but only half have been confirmed while only 7,400 flights scheduled for January have been confirmed out of the initially planned 10,984 flights, it said.

The cancelation of flight slots by several Chinese airlines following low passenger demand won't have an impact on the government's visa exemption policy for Chinese citizens, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said as cited by Bangkok Post.

Thailand last September began waiving visas for Chinese tourists but a recent mall shooting in Bangkok that killed two foreigners including a Chinese also affected tourist confidence.

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.

Thailand 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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