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Asia-Pacific

Thailand’s Ambitious Plan to Attract 40 Million Tourists in 2023

Alan Woinski
September 21st, 2023 at 7:23 AM EDT

Skift Take

  • Chinese hotel RevPAR surged by 59.6% YoY but remained 5.1% below 2019 levels for the week ending September 16th.
  • The Philippines is close to surpassing its 2023 tourist arrival target, with 3.87 million foreign visitors contributing Php316.9 billion in revenue.
  • Thailand aims to attract a record 40 million tourists in 2023 through visa-free systems, promotional efforts, and expanding direct flights, targeting international travelers with a focus on Chinese visitors.

STR reported Chinese hotel data for the week ended September 16th. Chinese hotel RevPAR was up 59.6% year over year. The week’s RevPAR was up against an easy decline of -11.5% year over year in the comparable result in 2022. Versus the same week in 2019, RevPAR was down -5.1%.

The Philippines has welcomed 3.87 million foreign tourists since the start of the year, as of September 19, representing more than 80% of the country’s 2023 target of 4.8 million arrivals. The country is on track to exceed 5 million arrivals. Revenue generated from tourists during January 1 to September 19 was Php316.9 billion (US$5.58 billion), with most coming from South Korea, the United States and Japan. Tourism is more important than ever in the Philippines now as the Asian Development Bank recently cut their economic growth projection for the Philippines in 2023 from 6% to 5.7%, citing inflation and global headwinds.

The government of Thailand has introduced measures to boost tourism and is forecasting a record 40 million visitors and 3.1 trillion baht in tourism-related revenue next year. The expected revenue would be 29% higher than the 2.4 trillion baht expected this year. 40 million visitors is the record set in 2019 before the pandemic hit. Thailand is expecting 28 million foreign visitors this year, generating tourism revenue of 2.4 trillion baht, 1 trillion of it from local travelers. The visitation boosting measures include visa-free systems beginning September 24, extending the program to China and Kazakhstan until February 29, 2024. The Thai prime minister wants to target countries to persuade citizens to visit Thailand, using Chinese actors, singers and senior officials to promote the country. The government also is expanding direct flights to secondary provinces with high potential. Travel agencies will offer special visitor promotions, with Thailand promoted as Asia’s entertainment hub.

ForwardKeys released the latest Chinese outbound travel trends regarding Golden Week. As of September 6, bookings for the upcoming Golden Week travel are -58% lower than the same period in 2019. Even with that, they said the currently outlook for travel on this year’s peak travel time, September 29th, already reached 84% of the pre-pandemic level. On that day, Hong Kong, the UAE and Macau already surpassed the travel levels seen in 2019. ForwardKeys pointed out that Chinese travelers tend to wait until the last minute to book. ForwardKeys also said 37% of the travelers’ plan to stay in their destinations for 6-8 nights, representing a 3 percentage point increase compared to 2019. South Korea tops the wish list on intended travel destinations for 2023 with ForwardKeys saying 10.4% of respondents chose it. Group travel is now allowed there for the first time since 2017.

Jetwing Hotels and Villas announced its latest addition to the eclectic portfolio, Jetwing Galle Heritage Home. The private villa is a restored Southern Sri Lankan manor, nestled in the historic city of Galle. The heritage villa has been meticulously restored to its former glory and is the first and only authentic Sri Lankan boutique home. The heritage villa comprises three spacious rooms, including two deluxe rooms and an enchanting attic suite. A fully equipped kitchen, inclusive of a wood-fired clay stove and a gas stove, is available for guests along with a private chef. Jetwing Hotels and Villas’ diverse portfolio includes a range of luxury hotels and villas, each offering a unique perspective on Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty.

ITC Hotels announced the signing of Welcomhotel Kalimpong resort under a management agreement with Pravez Constructions Private Limited. The 70 key greenfield upper-upscale project, spread over 4 acres, will offer plush rooms with views of the Himalayas and the valley, an all-day dining restaurant, a lounge, a bar and a specialty restaurant. There will be ample recreational facilities such as a fitness center, children’s’ club, games room, library and a spa. The resort shall offer over 15,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event spaces. With this property, ITC will have a strong presence across West Bengal, India with eight hotels across various segments. ITC Hotels’ portfolio currently includes 25 Welcomhotels across India with more in the pipeline.

Sterling Holidays, the Indian unit of Thomas Cook, announced the 63 room Sterling Aatapi Wonderland. The property is located within Gujarat’s largest theme park.

Dhaka Regency Hotel & Resort announced they inaugurated the 10th floor of its premises. The floor features a range of luxurious suites and state of the art amenities. The hotel recently underwent a significant upgrade, bringing a fresh look to the interior but also a revamped entrance area. The new outlook has breathed new life into the lobby, banquet halls, rooftop and many outlets.

Personnel Moves

The Pacific Asia Travel Association announced the appointment of Mr. Noor Ahmad Hamid as its new Chief Executive Officer, effective October 1, 2023. Noor’s appointment is for a three year term. Noor is 60 years old, a Malaysian citizen, and has had a distinguished 35 year career in travel and tourism including the last 13 years specializing in the MICE sector. In 2019 he was appointed COO of Malaysia Convention and Exhibitions Bureau. In 2022 he was inducted into the Events Industry Council Hall of Leaders.

Chang Chee Pey, the former marketing chief of the Singapore Tourism Board, was named as the new Senior Vice President and Chief Experience Officer for Resorts World Sentosa. Chang worked for the STB for over 26 years, holding various roles, including Assistant Chief Executive of its International Group and Executive Director of Europe, South Asia, Middle East and Africa. Chang stepped down from the STB in March with Kenneth Lim named as his successor. Lim was previously Executive Director of Marketing Partnerships, Planning, and Capability Development.

Alan Woinski
September 21st, 2023 at 7:23 AM EDT

Companies: ITC Hotels Jetwing Hotels and Villas

Locations: China, Gujarat, Kazakhastan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand

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