Thailand is a beautiful country with a vibrant metropolis in Bangkok, breathtaking temples, untouched mountain landscapes, and countless dream islands that offer everything from yoga retreats to entertainment. This is what the tourism industry advertises about Thailand.
Before the pandemic, a quarter of foreign travelers to Thailand came from China. However, due to the pandemic, Chinese visitors have decreased significantly.
Recently, a shooting spree in a large shopping mall in the middle of Bangkok has also contributed to this. A 14-year-old shot and killed three people, including a Chinese mother with children. This was widely reported in China, which led to many cancellations of Thailand trips.
Following the shooting, Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin met with the Chinese ambassador in Bangkok. He also emphasized on Chinese television that Thailand is a safe country.
Blockbuster triggers fears
The desire to travel among Chinese citizens was dampened by releasing a Chinese blockbuster movie called "No More Bets" in the summer. The movie revolves around gangs that deceive Chinese citizens into traveling to Southeast Asia, only to force them into a life of crime. Unfortunately, the movie further reinforces the pre-existing negative stereotypes about Thailand that are already rampant in China. This further cements these stereotypes in the collective consciousness of the people.
In addition to security concerns, China's current economic situation has led to decreased domestic consumption and tourism.
The government abolishes visa requirements
The Thai government has eased entry regulations to attract more Chinese tourists, including eliminating the need for a visa. Despite the tourism industry's disappointment at the absence of Chinese visitors, not everyone in Thailand feels the same way. Some locals have expressed frustration with the behavior of Chinese tourists, particularly large tour groups, who are sometimes perceived as loud and disruptive.
The Russians have replaced the Chinese as the most important foreign visitor group on the holiday island of Phuket. However, many people consider them loud and rowdy. Moreover, some settle in Thailand and start tourism businesses, which doesn't sit well with the locals.
There is no end in sight to overtourism
For a long time, Thailand has been overwhelmed by mass tourism from all over the world. The local people and the environment feel the negative impact of over-tourism, such as coral reefs and the extensive deforestation of islands to build hotels.
Despite the adverse effects, experts believe returning to soft tourism is not feasible. The current infrastructure, including large hotel resorts, is designed for mass tourism. Additionally, too many industries rely on it to abandon it altogether.