BANGKOK – As China’s tourism economy begins to reopen, a survey of first-tier city consumers shows that 53% are planning to travel out of the country within the year.
The China Thailand Travel Sentiment Survey 2020, conducted in mid-April, was based on over 1,000 travellers by hospitality consultancy C9 Hotelworks and Delivering Asia Communications.
It found that August, October and December were the most popular months for trips within the remaining half of the year.
The sentiment comes as China has begun to resume domestic and regional flight services and slowly open tourist attractions across the country.
The survey, which mainly tracked Chinese consumers’ sentiments towards visiting Thailand, found that 71% of respondents indicated a preference to visit the destination.
Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui and Pattaya made the top five cities for Chinese travellers, with an overwhelming three-quarters concentrated on the top three destinations.
Half the travellers surveyed revealed they are budgeting for trips of 10,000 RMB (US$1,400) per person, while one-third are prepared to set aside 5,000 RMB per person. Thirteen percent are making plans within the 15,000 RMB bracket, while the remaining 4% expect to spend above 15,000 RMB.
However, there will be a shift away from mass market travel. Eighty-three percent of potential visitors said they would opt for independent travel versus a group tour.
In terms of their most preferred booking channel, travellers ranked Ctrip the highest at 61%, followed by Fliggy (16%), hotel websites (9%), Booking.com (5%) and WeChat (5%).
Chinese visitors account for over one-quarter of Thailand’s 39.8 million tourist arrivals in 2019 at nearly 11 million arrivals. The tourism sector alone contributes between 12-15% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
C9 Hotelworks managing director Bill Barnett expects that Thailand’s tourism recovery will be fuelled by the return of the domestic market and followed quickly by inter-regional travel from the outbound China sector, who are “ready and willing to visit the country”.
While a lingering global fear factor of travel is expected, Mr Barnett cites favourable factors such as Thailand’s close proximity and “vast network of approved routes to the Mainland” and the currency appreciation of the Chinese Yuan (RMB) against the Thai Baht after lows in Q3 and Q4 of 2019.
Delivering Asia Communications CEO David Johnson noted that the changing demographics of Chinese travellers, who are younger, more independent and more digitally influenced will require new digital strategies.