Thailand has been attracting increasingly large numbers of Chinese tourists over the past few years and we now have the data to show the Kingdom is their favourite holiday destination.
2015 saw 7.9 million Chinese mainland visitors come to Thailand – a 70 percent increase on 2014 – and saw the country overtake South Korea to become their most popular foreign holiday destination.
Consequently, South Korea saw a 2 percent drop in arrivals during 2015, according to Bloomberg, suggesting that mainlanders may be now actively choosing Thailand over their close neighbour.
While the influx of new visitors is undoubtedly good for Thailand’s tourism revenue and the economy as a whole, Thai locals are known for singling the Chinese out for less than ideal behaviour.
The latest headlines regarding Chinese tourists revolve around the numbers of campervan mobile homes that have popped up in northern Thailand over the past few weeks as Chinese families visited the country for the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Aside from concerns that these tourists were not spending money in hotels and thus boosting the economy, locals were dismayed by the apparent lack of respect accorded to Thai culture as they parked their campervans in inappropriate places, like temples and hospital carparks, according to the Nation.
“They parked everywhere,” said Major-General Pongsak Chuasomboon, the deputy commissioner of police in the northernmost provinces. “They even parked by a police kiosk because they wanted to be safe.”
While small culture clashes like these do not cause much harm as a singular event, repeated minor lapses in respectful behaviour have frustrated many Thais, sometimes prejudicing them against Chinese tourists.
Hopefully, the increase in the number of Chinese visitors will encourage respect and tolerance on both sides of the nationality divide.
But Chinese mainlanders aren’t the only nationalist choosing Thailand for their vacation.
A separate study conducted by Hotels.com saw that the preferred international holiday destination for Indian tourists during 2015 was also Thailand, and Bangkok city in particular.
Bangkok overtook Dubai, which was nudged into second place after taking the top slot in 2014. Taking third and fourth places were Singapore and London, respectively.
Hotels.com compiled the rankings according to the number of bookings made online across thousands of global hotels on their own portal, reports The Hindu Business Line.
“Short-haul destinations in Asia were preferred by Indian travellers in 2015. This was mainly due to 13 long weekends that influenced Indian travellers’ choices to opt for short-haul holiday destinations,” says the report.
Featured image is of Bangkok’s Chinatown and is by Philip Roeland (Creative Commons)