'Lost in Thailand' draws more Chinese
Chinese New Year in Thailand this year is likely to see a taste of real culture from China. Thanks to the movie "Lost in Thailand", a huge box-office success in China, a great number of tourists from that country are being attracted to visit the Kingdom.
"Why not?'' asked Jamnong Junnapiya, executive director for East Asia at the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), adding: "It's similar to Korean pop culture, which has influenced Thai society. And this trend has caused Thais to visit South Korea to explore the country culturally. Similarly, Chinese people are coming here.'' She projects some 300,000 Chinese tourists visiting Thailand this month, up from 200,000 in February last year. The media also reported that 384 charter flights would carry Chinese tourists to major tourist destinations across Thailand from today until February 20, such as Chiang Mai, Phuket and Samui.
She said that in Chiang Mai alone there were 26 charter flights scheduled during Chinese New Year.
According to Kasikorn Research Centre, Thailand will be a major destination for Chinese tourists during the Lunar New Year period, thanks to the hit film. The research expected the number of Chinese tourists to grow by 37.9 per cent to at least 800,000 in the first quarter compared with the same period last year. It expected they would spend Bt29.6 billion in total, a 44.4-per-cent increase year on year.
Beijing has announced that the Chinese New Year holiday period will be from February 9-15, a total of seven days.
Jamnong expects the number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand this year most likely to reach 3 million, up from 2.7 million in 2012. KResearch projected at least 3.35 million, an increase of 20.5 per cent year on year. Total tourism revenue from Chinese visitors is projected to increase by 27.5 per cent to about Bt123 billion.
Chiang Mai was a filming location for "Lost in Thailand". Sarawut Saetiao, president of the Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association, said the film had boosted the number of Chinese tourists visiting the area. The occupancy rate has been averaging 80-90 per cent and existing facilities in the city have been enough to serve them. At present, there are more than 40,000 rooms in Chiang Mai. He acknowledged that accommodation downtown had been almost fully booked, but said there were more rooms in other areas if demand kept increasing.
"Lost in Thailand" reportedly earned Bt6 billion at the box office in China.