Thailand attempts to woo Chinese visitors back after military coup

Chinese have proven particularly nervous about the military takeover

Tourist at Wat Pho temple in Bangkok: the biggest visitors to Thailand are the Chinese. who spent €4.64 billion there last year. Photograph: Borja Sanchez-Trillo/Getty Tourist at Wat Pho temple in Bangkok: the biggest visitors to Thailand are the Chinese. who spent €4.64 billion there last year. Photograph: Borja Sanchez-Trillo/Getty Tourist at Wat Pho temple in Bangkok: the biggest visitors to Thailand are the Chinese. who spent €4.64 billion there last year. Photograph: Borja Sanchez-Trillo/Getty

Tourist at Wat Pho temple in Bangkok: the biggest visitors to Thailand are the Chinese. who spent €4.64 billion there last year. Photograph: Borja Sanchez-Trillo/Getty Tourist at Wat Pho temple in Bangkok: the biggest visitors to Thailand are the Chinese. who spent €4.64 billion there last year. Photograph: Borja Sanchez-Trillo/Getty Tourist at Wat Pho temple in Bangkok: the biggest visitors to Thailand are the Chinese. who spent €4.64 billion there last year. Photograph: Borja Sanchez-Trillo/Getty

 

Economic data this week showed that Thailand avoided a technical recession last month as investors cautiously return to the southeast Asian country after the military putsch in May caused jitters.

However, martial law has not gone down well with visitors, and international tourist arrivals fell 10 per cent in the first seven months of 2014.

With tourism accounting for 10 per cent of the economy, authorities have been going to considerable lengths to repair the situation.

The biggest visitors to Thailand are the Chinese. They spent €4.64 billion there last year, but have proven particularly nervous about the military takeover, recording a bigger drop than other nationalities since the coup.

Some 4.6 million Chinese visited Thailand last year, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and they accounted for 18 per cent of total visitors in July.

Under the new measures, a 1,000 baht (€24) charge for tourist visas for Chinese visitors has been lifted, and citizens from 48 countries and one territory receive a 30-day extension of stay. Irish visitors don’t need a holiday visa for Thailand.

The military junta is also said to be considering lifting martial law in tourist areas.

The tourism authority expects a total of 25.5 million tourists this year, about a million less than in 2013.

In the seven months to the end of July, the numbers from China were down about 24 per cent from 2013.

Hoteliers, too, are anxious for normality to return. On average, hotel rooms are registering less than 50 per cent occupancy, compared to 60 to 65 per cent in July 2013.

It’s interesting to note how Europeans appear less bothered by political unrest.

In June, the first full month under military rule, arrivals from Europe were down 3 per cent, but they were down 41 per cent from China, 46 per cent from Hong Kong, 25 per cent from Japan and 29 per cent from Korea.

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