Strategic Partnership Between the Tourist Authority of Thailand and Baidu To Help Attract High-End Chinese Tourists to Thailand
- Posted by Christopher Ledsham
- On 14th June 2016
- Baidu, first-tier cities, high-end travellers, Thailand
The Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Chinese web giant Baidu Inc. in Bangkok on Monday 13th June. The strategic partnership announcement saw the launch of a targeted information service that will provide independent Chinese travellers in Thailand with bilingual tourist support.
The information to be provided to Chinese travellers will be available on smartphones via Baidu Map, equipping independent users not only with a Chinese-language navigation tool, but also a service that will provide them with recommendations for as many as 17,000 different local restaurants, hotels and other attractions.
On top of enabling Chinese tourists to explore Thailand with greater freedom, the new service will also take advantage of the emerging trend of themed travel. The "Amazing Romance in Thailand" project, for example, will provide Chinese travellers with topical advice that will empower them to explore romantic destinations independently, thus simultaneously providing high-end tourists with pre-prepared themed guidance, while also maintaining the sense of adventure these more-experienced travellers seek.
Thailand is currently a popular destination for less-wealthy Chinese package tourists looking to venture beyond the Greater China region and is notably struggling with related issues such as widely-publicised behavioural issues amongst less-experienced travellers and the reputational damage associated with the continued operation of exploitative illegal travel agencies.
Accordingly, the TAT is hoping that its collaboration with Baidu will boost the number of higher-yield high-end tourists from first-tier and wealthier-second tier Chinese cities, many of whom tend to favour more exotic locations further afield where they will be less likely to be exposed to large package tour groups of their compatriots. In support of the announcement of the MOU on Monday, Baidu released a report made in collaboration with Ctrip and Union Pay revealing that 41% of Chinese travellers were willing to take part in group tours when visiting Thailand, but predicted that this figure would drop to 26% in the coming six months.
Through this market “restructuring” the authority hopes that it will be able to increase its 2016 tourism earnings by 35.4% to a total of 509 billion baht (UDS 14.5 billion); this is considered particularly crucial in light of the fact that the tourism sector accounts for approximately 10% of Thailand’s GDP. Following close to a total of eight million Chinese arrivals in 2015, the largest national group of inbound travellers, it is anticipated that 2016’s figure will exceed ten million.
While more-experienced, high-end Chinese travellers often seek out more novel, far flung destinations as a means of affirming their lifestyle, the limited amount of annual free time afforded to workers in China means that more regional destinations, such as Thailand and South Korea, will remain popular tourist hotspots for the Chinese. Many wealthy travellers seek to use the one week of holiday leave they receive for Chinese New Year to escape the crowds travelling domestically and, accordingly, destinations within a couple of hours’ flight from China are particularly popular with Chinese travellers at this time. Nevertheless, Thailand will find itself in competition with countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam and Japan, who are all currently looking to attract great numbers of high-end, higher-yield Chinese tourists.
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