Market Research: Chinese Tourism Market in Thailand – Update 2020

Chinese Tourism in Thailand: Marketing Research

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has announced the results of a detailed market study of the Chinese market to further refine its marketing and promotional strategies towards a generation of high-value visitors.

The research was conducted in eight of China’s most populous cities:

  • Beijing
  • Shanghai
  • Guangzhou, (Canton)
  • Kunming
  • Chengdu
  • Shenzhen
  • Xi’an
  • Shenyang

With a base sample of 2,400 respondents. These cities have been chosen because they have direct flights to Bangkok. With the number of Chinese visitors spending a lot, TAT has decided to focus on the Chinese market.


Chinese Outbound tourism market

China has become the world’s largest market for international travel, with more than 70 million annual travelers. As a result, it has become a highly competitive market. The study indicates that the total number of Chinese travelers, about 10 million people are high value tourists.

As personal disposable income increases year by year, Chinese people tend to spend more in traveling. The demand of China outbound tourism grows continuously. It is expected that the number of China outbound trips will reach 178.4 million with the total tourism expenditure of about CNY 1.2727 trillion by 2022. 

The study found that the high-value tourism market group in China is over 18 years of age, with a good level of education, well-being, stable work, high income, with average expenditure per Trip that is three times more than normal tourists.

It can be classified into the following three main groups according to demographics and lifestyles:

Reform Group:

  • Good financial situation
  • Eager to explore new experiences while seeking the meaning of life
  • Respect preservation and show respect for the host country
  • 2 million people

Ambitious Group:

  • Determined individuals, working hard to move forward in life and achieve more than others
  • Approximately 4.3 million people

Rich Group: 

  • Rich people who want to constantly improve their own image and that of their families
  • Careful spenders and tend to focus on comfort during their trip
  • Approximately 3.8 million people make up this group

TAT aims to attract these customer segments by launching well-targeted and creative campaigns based on research findings.   


China is now the main source of visitor arrivals in Thailand

China is now the main source of visitor arrivals in Thailand.


Chinese visitors to Thailand totaled 4.6 million in 2014, a slight decrease compared to 2013 (-0.29%).  Update to 2019, this number surge 41.8% to around 11 million. 

In 2015, TAT expects 5.6 million Chinese tourists spending 230 billion baht, or about 6 billion euros against 190 billion baht in 2014 (about 5 billion euros). In 2019,  Chinese visitors to Thailand have spent $21 billion. 

The profile of Chinese tourists changes rapidly as travelers become more mature and experienced. Many Chinese are new travelers to Thailand. TAT targets these travelers through marketing campaigns that focus on the fun of shopping, enjoying a Thai massage or a game of golf. They are also encouraged to visit new destinations such as northeast Thailand.


Chinese visitors in Thailand 

Chinese visitors have an average length of stay of 8 days and spending per person of up to 41,390 Baht or 1,100 euros.   


Moreover, they enjoy traveling to different destinations in Thailand. They also prefer to travel independently and spend more time experimenting with a variety of tourist activities in local areas.  

How to attract Chinese tourists after Covid-19?

Even though now the frontiers are closed due to the Covid-19, Chinese people are willing to travel abroad. According to a report published by Fliggy, One of China’s largest OTAs, 35% of Chinese are expecting a trip to other countries. If you want to take advantage of this opportunity, you need to:

  • Work on your e-reputation
  • Get visibility on Chinese Internet

Work on your e-reputation

E-reputation is important for a successful marketing strategy, especially we are tacking with the Chinese market. Chinese customers are very concerned about product quality since the scandals of fake products have abused Chinese customers’ confidence. Therefore, they don’t buy a product they don’t know.

3 ways to build a good e-reputation for your destination

  • Cooperation with KOLs
  • Social media management
  • PR management

KOLs (Key Opinion Leader) are popular in China. KOL marketing is to connect your brand and products with a relevant audiences and maintain interaction through those who have influence in specific fields. Those KOL have already gained the confidence of a group of Chinese netizens.

Live streams for Thailand trip on Xiaohongshu

Social media management, it is to create positive comments everywhere on the Chinese internet. As Chinese customers love to search for former users’ experience before making a choice, it is very important to have good e-reputation everywhere. WeChat, Weibo, Xiaohongshu are three leading social media platforms in China, and they have a great impact in Chinese shopping trends.

PR management can help to improve the relationship with the Chinese customers and promote the brand’s e-reputation as well as brand awareness by establishing a good image in order to gain Chinese customer’s confidence and support. Articles and reports about advertisers’ positive images are usually published on social platforms like Weibo, WeChat, Xiaohongshu or OTA (Online Tourism Agency)

3 Chinese OTAs you must know


Ctrip is the largest OTA in the Chinese market. It has an app and a website. Relying on the total number of 250 million users, the community has more than 5 million daily active users and has collected 30 million real users’ travel and hotel reviews. On this platform, users can reserve hotels, buy planes, train tickets and there are many other services. POI (Point Of Interest) is one of the services Ctrip proposes. POI can be a hotel, a historical site, a park, a country, etc.

More than an OTA, a POV Review

In addition to only knowing a place, users can also know on this page the value of the place. Is it worth going to? What preparations to make before going? What is the real-time status of the place? Have the former visitors had good experiences there? All information provided can persuade potential customers to make a decision.

Ctrip POI (left) & Mafengwo POI (right)

Based on the user’s different needs for travel, Ctrip’s POI includes four categories: attractions, food, shopping, and fun. With the help of the big data calculation of Ctrip user’s order, combined with the newly added POI data of users, the Chinese tourists’ hot spots are synchronized to meet the increasingly diversified travel needs of travelers. Ctrip has a huge POI base:

  • In total, 700,000 global POIs.
  • Daily average increase of 500 POIs.

2. Mafengwo – a Chinese tourism forum

Mafengwo is a Chinese tourism forum established in 2006. It provides a platform for travelers to exchange their experiences. Forum registered users can share their travel stories and provide travel strategies for various places on the platform, as well as provide hotels, air tickets, visas, etc. Users of this forum come from mainland China, as well as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, and other places.

Mafengwo is also an OTA

Just like Ctrip, Mafengwo provides users POI platforms. Moreover, it has launched an annual list of preferences for Chinese travelers. The list is based on annual travel data and the real travel experience of hundreds of millions of users. It is based on massive travel content such as travel experiences, guides, notes, videos, questions and answers, and reviews. It selects attractions, hotels, and restaurants that are worth experiencing worldwide. Provide high-quality tourism consumption reference.

Mafengwo’s Annual reference list in 2019

3. Fliggy – Alibaba’s online travel service platform

Fliggy refers to a comprehensive online travel transaction service platform that provides air tickets, hotels, travel routes, and other commodities for Taobao users, including a website and an app. Fliggy is a leisure and vacation brand for Chinese young consumers. Fliggy, together with Alibaba Business Travel for corporate travel services create Alibaba’s travel unit.

Fliggy’s targeted customer group is the generation that has grown up under the Internet. Combining the advantages of Alibaba’s ecology, consumers can get a freer and more imaginative journey for young people. It is also an overseas travel benchmark.

In a word, if you want to win the Chinese tourism market, it is essential to get Chinese customers’ confidence and let them know your brand through all online platforms to get your brand a high exposure and a very good e-reputation.

Do you want to know more about the actual situation in the Chinese tourism market? Contact GMA, a digital marketing agency, specialized in the Chinese digital market.

Why hire GMA to promote your destination?

  • Dedicated tourism team passionated by China & marketing
  • Cost-efficient solutions for profesionnals of tourism
  • Experienced & Professional in supporting companies for their development in China
  • With a deep knowledge of the Chinese lifestyle
  • A passionate international team

Further reading on chinese outbounf tourism:


  • Austin Eumarrah

    Very thankful for these resources, they seem like they will really help with what I need to get done. Thank you very much for the post!

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