AROUND A million tourists are expected to travel to Thailand during Chinese New Year, generating revenue of Bt29 billion (S$1.15 million).
Srisuda Wanapinyosak, the Tourism Authority of Thailand's deputy governor for international marketing in Asia and the South Pacific, yesterday said an estimated 1.01 million foreigners would visit the Kingdom during the nine-day celebration, from February 6-14.
The projection is equivalent to a 19-per-cent increase in arrival numbers over last year's Chinese New Year.
The forecast revenue contribution of Bt29 billion represents a 32-per-cent rise from the same period last year.
Srisuda said Chinese from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia would together make up nearly half of the visitors at 476,000 - some 20 per cent higher than last year.
About 300,000 of them are expected to be from mainland China.
Chinese tourists in total are expected to generate income of Bt15 billion during the celebration period, she said. A total of 330 charter flights from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and Vietnam will carry tourists to Thailand over Chinese New Year.
Of these flights, 174 will be direct to Bangkok, 75 to Phuket, 44 to Chiang Mai and 37 to Krabi.
"Despite China's [economic] instability, the TAT remains optimistic that the country will contribute the largest arrival source with more than 6 million tourists expected this full year," Srisuda said.
According to the TAT Intelligence Centre, the key factors that are helping attract more Chinese and other tourists to the Kingdom are the availability of multiple-visit visas and visas on arrival, more scheduled and charter flights, and the marketing efforts by travel agencies overseas.
The centre points to the fact that eight of the 10 most popular foreign destinations for Chinese are in Asia, with the top three favourites being Thailand, Japan and South Korea.
Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said that around 2 million foreigners had arrived at this country's five major airports between January 1 and 26, with spending rising by 16 per cent from the same period last year. Arrivals at Don Mueang International Airport saw the highest growth, at 51 per cent, followed by Chiang Mai (31 per cent), Phuket (21 per cent), Hat Yai (12 per cent) and Suvarnabhumi (6 per cent).
Kobkarn added that the ministry would this year promote cross-border tourism with Cambodia and Myanmar, and would push marine and cruise tourism by linking Thailand with the Philippines in its marketing efforts.