First Chinese outbound tourist groups depart, with Asian countries a popular destination
Published: Feb 06, 2023 01:30 PM Updated: Feb 06, 2023 01:22 PM
Banners are set up at Don Mueang International Airport to greet Chinese tourists.

Banners are set up at Don Mueang International Airport to greet Chinese tourists.

The first flight in three years carrying a Chinese outbound tourist group took off early Monday morning after China resumed pilot outbound tours following the country’s optimization of epidemic control measures.

At 12:15 am on Monday morning, 50 tourists departed Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, Guangzhou, South China’s Guangdong Province, onboard Emirates flight EK363, heading to the UAE and Egypt, The Beijing News reported, marking the official restart of China's outbound group tour business, three years after it was suspended on January 26, 2020.

While this flight was still, another flight of Chinese group tourists has arrived in Thailand, the first country to welcome back Chinese tour groups.

As of 8:05 am local time, Thailand welcomed the first outbound Chinese travel group since the outbreak of the pandemic, according to the flight schedule.

A group of nearly 40 tourists dispatched from Guangzhou taking Spring Airlines flight 9C7419 and landed at Don Mueang International Airport, Bangkok, where they will enjoy a six-day trip to Pattaya and Bangkok, the People’s Daily reported.

Banners were set up at Don Mueang International Airport to greet Chinese tourists, which read in Chinese “Thailand always welcomes Chinese friends.”

Yuthasak Supasorn, head of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, greeted Chinese tourists at the airport and presented them with gifts.
In another flight, 24 tourists from Shanghai set off from Shanghai Pudong International Airport for Phuket, Thailand, on Monday morning, the Global Times learned from Spring Travel. The flight, Spring Airlines 9C8521, took off from Shanghai at 10:40 am and is expected to arrive in Phuket at 15:15 pm. 

“I’m so excited that we are finally able to travel abroad since COVID-19. With the plane leaving for a foreign country, it is a landmark and epochal shift,” a tourist surnamed Zhu told the Global Times before departure.

For this trip, Zhu has brought a dozen suits, hats and gauze scarves. “I want to eat seafood, experience the blue sky, white clouds, beaches and exotic scenery in Thailand,” Zhu said.

The return of Chinese group tourists represents a vital boost to Thailand’s tourism sector. More than 11 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand in 2019. This compares with a total of 39.8 million foreign tourists entering Thailand that same year. Thailand is expecting at least 5 million Chinese tourist arrivals this year, the People’s Daily reported.

In 2023 Thailand aims to increase tourism-related revenue to 80 percent of that in 2019, which is 2.4 trillion baht, and receive 25 million tourist arrivals. Nearly 2 million foreign tourists visited Thailand in January, with the number from China surging three times.

According to Shi Wen, tour operator for the trip to Phuket, some malls and restaurants in Thailand targeting Chinese visitors which closed in the past three years are reopening.

China’s reopening is expected to further lift the tourism economy across APAC, according to Fitch Ratings

“We expect a revival of Chinese outbound tourism to boost growth prospects in economies with substantial tourism sectors. Further upsides to government credit profiles could stem from its positive effect on domestic employment markets and the external services trade balance,” Fitch Ratings said in a report sent to the Global Times.