In the quarterly report by Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports, international tourists arriving in Thailand were up by more than 15% reaching 9 million between January and March 2016.
The majority of visitor countries saw increases with notable exceptions of Australia (-0.87%) whose residents commonly list Thailand as a favoured holiday destination and Taiwan (-17.55%).
Of the travel surge to Thailand, 2.6 million Chinese visited in the first quarter, an increase of 31%. By comparison, in the 12 months to March there were 1 million Chinese to visit Australia.
Given this dramatic boost to tourism growth for Thailand this poses new opportunities for Thailand to market itself as the best choice for Chinese holiday makers and to capitalise on key travel periods for mainland China such as Golden Week (黄金周 – huángjīn zhōu).
Tourism marketing for inbound travellers relies on two components: being able to create products and packages for travellers which relies on understanding the markets preferences; and the second is to reach them when they are making their travel plans. Central to this is being active in the Chinese market. This can be a combination of activities including having a Chinese language website, Chinese search engine advertising, social media activities such as WeChat or physical activities such as partnerships with travel agents in China or participating in travel fairs.
To attract Chinese visitors it is important to understand what they value in a hotel, tour operator or activity. Ranking highly is unique experiences and Chinese speaking staff. Identifying and catering to these preferences creates a clear point of difference for the traveller and makes the purchasing decision much simpler.
Embracing the Chinese tourist will yield strong dividends for Thailand’s tourism industry and provide a boost to the tourism sector as part of the Thai economy.