The Special Tourist Visa is well and operational, with 39 tourists from Shanghai already serving their 14-day quarantine before they are allowed to roam around in Thailand for their holidays.
Noting that a majority of the applicants for the visa are coming from China, the Tourism Authority of Thailand said that they are looking into building more of this market of “low risk” tourists in order to help bring back tourism revenues to near normal levels next year.
TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said that they are looking at a possible 7.4 million total arrivals next year from the Chinese market alone.
However, Mr. Yuthasak clarified that they are still actively monitoring the Chinese market. At this point, the number of tourists from China that signed up for the STV is still very small.
The TAT had earlier said that their projections for 2021 are based on a best-case scenario – that is, travel restrictions are relaxed and tourists are able to freely travel between China and Thailand by early 2021.
“Some 7.45 million arrivals from China is in our sight, but it depends on how situation develops,” he said.
One of the factors that they are monitoring are policies by the central government in Mainland China, especially in granting permissions for its citizens to travel during certain holidays in the country. For example, the TAT has to continually update itself on news whether the Chinese government will allow international air travel for the Chinese New Year in February.
The TAT is more confident that they could see a large influx of Chinese tourists by July next year. This coincides with a nationwide school break in China. The possibility of a vaccine being available by that time will also mean international travel in China is possible.
There is also short-term confidence as well, as Mr. Yuthasak points out that the Chinese government’s efforts to promote international trade events. One of these is the China International Import Expo, which takes place on November 5 to 10 this year.
On the other hand, TAT Deputy Governor for marketing (Asia and the South Pacific) Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya said that the agency is targeting Millennial Chinese in its upcoming strategy for tourism. These are individuals aged 20-35 years old, and presents a potential market of 321 million people.
This strategic pivot is different from that of the Special Tourist Visa, which mainly targets older tourists with higher purchasing power.
Mr. Chattan said that younger people are more likely to travel as soon as restrictions are eased, even for a short holiday as they “less concerned” about possible health risks and are more “flexible.”
“Millennial travellers have more flexibility as they can actively penetrate technologies and online information — essential tools for post-pandemic tourism,” said Mr Chattan.
Mr. Chattan also said that the TAT will be looking into more experiences to help these young travelers truly unwind after several months of lockdowns and social distancing due to the pandemic.
The Asian market is expected to turn out only 11.2 million tourist arrivals for 2021, which is 32.4% percent lower than last year.