Chinese investors eye tourism

Corporate March 30, 2015 01:00

By SUCHAT SRITAMA
THE NATION

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Chinese firms are interested in investing in tourism and medical care in Thailand to serve high-end markets following their success in Cambodia and South Africa.

A group of members of the International China Investment Forum (ICIF), such as Shanghai Ultra and Sanya Tiantai Century Industrial, have met with top officials of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Tourism Council of Thailand and Board of Investment to discuss promising investment opportunities here, especially in the medical and healthcare businesses.

"This group plans to invest in the medical tourism business by opening 50 healthcare centres in China and also healthcare centres in five resorts in Thailand to provide services such as medical check-ups, dental work and optical services," Marcus Lee, co-chairman of the organising committee of the ICIF, said last week.

Such centres in Thailand could serve 30,000 VIP clients and generate Bt1.5 billion in revenue for medical tourism.

The group is confident investments here would achieve targets and also increase the flow of Chinese expertise into Thailand.

Xu Jing, a tourism expert at the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, said tourism could survive many dynamic changes. The country is expected to continue attracting many new investments from abroad in many areas besides travel.

However, operators involved with tourists should be aware that online and new media are new marketing tools for doing business in this current era. Everyone has a chance to do business.

"Just only one person now can run as an online entrepreneur. That is interesting," he said.

InterContinental Hotels Group and Oxford Economics published a study this month on the Chinese travel market that showed opportunity for global travel destinations.

The "Future of Chinese Travel Report" shows that the Chinese travel market is set to fuel huge increases in demand for international travel over the next decade.

Thailand will see huge growth in Chinese arrivals with Bangkok projected to see growth of over 690,000 visitors, one of the highest jumps in Southeast Asia

The popular resort destination of Pattaya is expected to welcome 527,000 more Chinese visitors by 2023.

In 2013, Bangkok saw 1.76 million Chinese arrivals, one of the highest gains in the region.

The Tourism Council of Thailand projects the number of Chinese arrivals to reach 6.7 million this year, up from 5 million last year. Globally, Bangkok was ranked the top city for Chinese travellers in 2013, with spending of over US$3.8 billion. This is projected to increase more than 130 per cent to exceed $8.8 billion in tourist spending in 2023. Pattaya ranked second with Chinese travellers spending nearly $3 billion in 2013.

Richard Solomons, chief executive officer of IHG, said 90 million Chinese households could take long-haul trips by 2023.

Three key trends in Chinese travel will emerge over the next 10 years – demand for long-haul travel, China overtaking the United States, and the United Kingdom and Germany to become the largest source market for long-haul travellers by 2020.