Newsletter No 157 – October 2017

Today is the beginning of the Chinese Golden Week. Three days of paid holiday are given, and the surrounding weekends are re-arranged so that workers in Chinese companies always have seven continuous days of holiday. These national holidays were first started by the government for the PRC’s National Day in 1999 and are primarily intended to help expand the domestic tourism market and improve the national standard of living, as well as allowing people to make long-distance family visits. It is forecast that half a billion people will travel during this period, mostly within China but over 6 million are
expected to travel abroad.

Travel China Guide reports that Thailand is still the top outbound tourist destination for Chinese travelers due to relaxed visa requirements, followed by Japan, Singapore and South Korea although other reports suggest travel to the latter may be declining due to current tensions in the region. But they also report that in the first quarter of 2017 they spent less during their visits by up to 37% compared to last year.

The ban on “zero dollar” tour groups last year had an immediate negative effect on numbers from China. These tours were sold at extremely cheap rates in China but on arrival in Thailand the groups were closely marshalled into Chinese backed operations, they were forced to stay, travel and shop in places part of a tightly controlled network and rarely saw the real Thailand. Very little money ended up in the Thai economy. Since then there has been an increase in the FIT – Free Independent Traveller – using their smart phones to book hotels through Chinese on line travel agents such as CTrip and
using translation aps on the phone to communicate. It is reckoned that the Chinese FIT now make up 60% of the 9m or so Chinese visitors to Thailand.

What does this mean for Koh Samui? We are now in the second low season of the year and if I look at hotel availability a large number are showing as fully booked for the Golden Week. Obviously this is good for the hotels but taking into account the reports quoted above, and assuming most of these bookings are indeed Chinese, it will probably have little benefit to the wider economy apart from the 7-11’s and Family Marts.
We are still not seeing any interest from the Chinese in the re-sale market but as reported in previous Newsletters I am now aware of three developments backed by Chinese funds and aimed principally at the Chinese market confirming the preference for new properties rather than older ones.

This month’s contents –
Chinese Golden Week
New Listings
Price Reductions
Public Holidays in October
Cruise ships visiting Samui in October
Direct flight opens from Xi’an to Koh Samui in Thailand
Thailand becomes first country in Asia to join global effort to clean up
the world’s oceans
Venice Film Review: ‘Samui Song’
Samui Festival 2017 sets Guinness World Record for largest buffet
Thailand’s tourist arrivals and revenue continues growth in 3rd Quarter of 2017
Thumbnail Guide to Trash on the Thai Gulf Islands
Travellers rank Thailand 8th best of all
SALA Samui Chaweng Beach Resort
Samui braces for Chinese tourist invasion for National Day this weekend

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