The first planeload of Chinese tourists since travel restrictions were removed last week landed in Chiang Mai province on Wednesday, consisting of 195 people.
Representatives from the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Tourism Council, and local tourism operators met the Juneyao Airlines flight as it landed at Chiang Mai Airport at 3:30 pm.
Prior to the outbreak, 11 million Chinese visitors were expected to visit Thailand this year.
Wijit Kaewsaithiam, director of Chiang Mai International Airport, said five Chinese airlines had established routes to Chiang Mai in response to the recent uptick in tourist demand. Included among these are Juneyao Airlines, Spring Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, and Air China.
Most Chinese visitors to Chiang Mai in the first quarter of 2023 will be independent travelers, according to Suladda Sarutilavan, director of TAT’s Chiang Mai Office, because tour operators have not yet begun marketing packages to Thailand. But she believes that beginning in the second quarter, tour groups accompanied by guides will begin to arrive.
The TAT predicts that this year, China will account for 600,000 of Chiang Mai’s tourists. This represents around a third of the total number of 2019 visitors.
Beginning with Chinese New Year on Sunday, the city of Chiang Mai and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) have planned a year-long calendar of festivals designed to attract foreign tourists. These festivals include the Chiang Mai Flower Festival in February, Songkran in April, and Loy Krathong in November.