“Laos may not have the capability to support a large scale of tourists, in terms of facilities or accommodation. Thailand must take this opportunity to serve the overflow coming across the land border,” said Adith Chairattananon, honorary secretary-general of Atta, reports the Bangkok Post.
About a million Chinese entered Laos in 2019, with 80% coming by air.
He estimated the number could reach 4-5 million next year, mostly by land through the Laos-China railway connecting Kunming and Vientiane, assuming China’s borders are fully reopened by that time.
Atta already proposed to the government an exemption for the visa-on-arrival fee of B2,000 to draw more tourists. The National Economic and Social Development Council is vetting the proposal.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, visa-free travel added 16.6% growth to travel demand, said Mr Adith.
Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of Atta, said tour agents should not hope for a return of Chinese tourists this year, instead waiting until China’s Two Sessions meeting finishes in March next year for a clearer policy on domestic and international affairs. Two Sessions is regarded as the most important annual political gathering between the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
He said despite border closures, Thailand still has Chinese travellers who reside in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Laos and Cambodia visiting the country.
Speaking at the Atta monthly meeting yesterday (Oct 27), Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the agency will use its fiscal 2023 budget to actively promote the inbound market.
TAT was allocated a budget of B937mn, up by 88.7% from 2022.
Mr Yuthasak said the number of roadshows and trade shows this year could match the tally in 2019. As of Oct 25, foreign arrivals totalled 7.3mn.