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Thailand attracting Chinese tourists to the 2014 Songkran festivities

Thailand is looking to attract a larger number of Chinese tourists to join this year’s Songkran celebrations. Many of these Chinese visitors are coming into the kingdom by air or road and are heading to a range of different Thai destinations.

BANGKOK – According to a recent survey from the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) Kunming Office, many China-based airlines flying to Thailand are reporting a load factor of 80-90 per cent for the Songkran period (14-20 April 2014). These figures are based on advance bookings for Thai-bound flights.
Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik, TAT Governor said, “It is exciting for us to see such large numbers of tourist arrivals from China. Chinese travellers make up the most dynamic sector of the market and they are always seeking out the sort of unique experiences that events like Songkran offer.
We have been working closely and continuously with strategic business partners and travel agencies in China to promote travel in Thailand and, it seems that, our efforts are now paying off.’’
The numbers of tourists arriving by road from Southern China have increased greatly over the past few years. Based on advance bookings for 10-20 April, 2014, the number of tourists from China, arriving by car will constitute a 152 per cent year-on-year increase. Meanwhile, the number of actual vehicles, coming independently or joining organised caravan trips has jumped by 129 per cent when compared to the same period during the 2013 Songkran. 
The average length of stay for Chinese tourists arriving by car for the 2014 Songkran celebrations is 7-14 days.
For Chinese tourists arriving by air this April, Phuket remains the most popular destination, followed by Bangkok, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai.
Orient Thai Airlines’ charter flights bookings from Kunming to Krabi, Surat Thani and Phuket have registered an average load factor of over 90 per cent from 14-20 April, 2014. During the same period, advance bookings on China Eastern Airlines’ scheduled flights on the Kunming-Phuket route are registering around 80 per cent in load factor.
As for bookings for Bangkok, the average load factor based on advance bookings from Kunming during the Songkran period on China Eastern AirlinesAir Asia, and Thai Airways International are steady at around 80 per cent, 75 per cent and 60 per cent, respectively. On Hainan Airlines’ Hainan-Bangkok route, the average load factor for the Songkran period stands at around 60 per cent.
These are large numbers and the popularity of Thailand this April is attributed to the TAT’s aggressive and ongoing marketing strategies aimed at increasing visitor numbers for the Songkran period. This marketing drive was carried out via the traditional promotion activities alongside a comprehensive campaign via social media sites.
The TAT has also tried to encourage Chinese tourists to visit less well-travelled destinations to enjoy the Songkran fun, such as Ko Samed, Ko Chang, Krabi, Trang, Ko Samui, Lampang, Sukhothai, Hua Hin and Cha-am, which in the past have generally attracted tourists from the western markets.
Mr. Thawatchai said, “Our ongoing efforts to attract Chinese travellers are really starting to pay off. China’s travel agents are reporting increasing demand among holiday-makers to visit destinations outside Bangkok. The Kunming Zhongbei International Travel Service, for example, has seen great success in promoting the Honeymoon and Photo Wedding Packages to Hua Hin with rates ranging between 13,140 – 19,800 RMB (68,306 – 103,046 Baht) per person.
In addition, several Chinese airlines have recently introduced new direct flights between cities in the mainland and other key Thai tourist destinations (other than Bangkok), such as, Phuket and Chiang Mai.
TAT Governor added, “More direct international flights from China to key destinations such as Phuket, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai will allow Chinese tourists to shorten or cut down on transit time in Bangkok and so have more time to enjoy the many cultural and natural attractions that Thai destinations have to offer.
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