Thailand Attracts Chinese New Year Tourists
As Year of the Goat begins, Thailand is once again experiencing a huge influx of tourists from the north for the Chinese New Year celebrations. Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport, the main gateway to the country, expects to handle as many as 2.15 million passengers over the course of the festival, a figure predicted to rise up to 20 percent from the previous year.
While the actual Chinese New Year falls on February 19th this year, Suvarnabhumi Airport's director Praphon Pattamakitsakun told the press that total daily arrivals between February 14-26 would most likely fall somewhere around the 165,789 mark. A total of 563 chartered flights are scheduled to arrive during that period, and a large proportion of the chartered flights to Thailand during Chinese New Year, 144 in total, Âwill be operated by China and China Eastern Airlines.
Thailand's Chinese heritage goes back hundreds of years, and Bangkok's Chinatown is one of the best places in the Kingdom to enjoy the Lunar New Year festivities. However, visitors were also encouraged to enjoy the traditional celebrations that take place in other regions across the country with Phuket, Trang, Songkhla, Ayutthaya, Chonburi and Chiang Mai are all recommended destinations for travellers seeking a great place to enjoy the lunar festival.Â
It is not only Chinese New Year that attracts visitors to Thailand, however, the Kingdom also recorded strong growth over the peak season through December and January. Last month, Thailand welcomed 2.65 million tourists from overseas and generated approximately THB120 billion (US$3.6 billion) in revenue, which represent increases of 15.9 and 12.7 percent respectively.Â
The strong performance in January can be attributed to significant growth in tourist arrivals at international airports throughout the Kingdom with China being the largest market, " said H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports. "We expect a steady increase in the first quarter, especially in February due to the high demand during Lunar New Year. Â
As part of its efforts to support the nation's tourism industry, the Thai government is also pondering the re-introduction of a scheme that waived visa fees for all Chinese and Taiwanese tourists to Thailand. The scheme, which ran from August through October last year, offered Chinese tourists exemption from the THB1000 (US$30) fee they usually pay for a visa on arrival.
by MAX VEE