It’s not an exaggeration to say that Chinese tourists are everywhere at the moment – the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) have confirmed that the country has been the world’s largest outbound tourist market since 2012, with around 120 million Chinese travelling abroad in 2015 alone.
Whether it’s sight-seeing or shopping sprees, the chance to leave their home territory and explore the rest of Asia and the world is to be relished for the Chinese.
But where are they going?
New data has revealed that the Asian cities of Seoul, Bangkok and Tokyo were the most favoured tourist destinations for Chinese travellers during the recent May Day holiday, according to China Daily, in part due to the fact that these destinations can be reached within a 5-hour flight from most Chinese hubs.
It’s no secret that the Chinese love Bangkok. Plenty of shared heritage, a similar community spirit and abundant opportunities to shop and discover mean that Bangkok has long been a city of choice for Chinese tourism.
The total number of Chinese visitors to the Kingdom grew by over 70 percent to 7.9 million in 2015 – and that’s excluding Hong Kong Chinese. It’s no secret that Chinese tourism has boosted the Thai economy no end.
However, while the Chinese love Thailand, not all Thais love the Chinese. Thanks to some highly publicised incidents like public urination, uncouth behaviour near temples and various other cultural misunderstandings, some have come to believe that there is a lack of respect for Thai culture among some Chinese tourist circles.
A recent demonstration of this can be seen in a viral video of Chinese tourists at a Thailand buffet where they are scrabbling to load their plates with food, piling them high with crispy shrimp, before leaving much of their half-eaten feast as waste.
In response to calls of uncouth behaviour from their citizens, Chinese authorities printed a slew of etiquette manuals last year in order to assist their tourists during their time abroad.
Of course, most Thais are aware that while these isolated incidents make headlines, only a small proportion of Chinese tourists err so heavily and some degree of misunderstanding is to be expected between the two cultures. Hopefully, as more Chinese visit the Kingdom, incidents like these will become less noteworthy.
Image is of Chinese tourists by Scalino (Creative Commons)