Photo: Street food Phetchaburi Soi 10, Bangkok.

Southeast Asia forum

Soapbox: About China

Posted by somtam2000 on 25/3/2015 at 02:19 admin

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About China
Much has been written over the last few months regarding Chinese tourists in Thailand. There's the story from the temple in the north that built separate toilets for them, stories of them drowning on the beaches of Phuket and in boat accidents heading to Ko Phi Phi , and Facebook has been awash in comments regarding their seeming inability to queue.

The most recent outrage was set off by some photos taken on Maya Bay, Ko Phi Phi Leh (in southern Thailand, famous for a beach that featured in the film The Beach), which hundreds and hundreds of tourists swarming over the beach there.

In January 2010, Thailand recorded 106,000 Chinese arrivals. In January 2015, the figure rose 500% to 560,399 people. Malaysia, which sent the next largest number of tourists in 2015, sent just half that of China's -- 279,517 -- and many of those would have been border hops.

The anger has been focussed on the Chinese, but particularly for Maya Bay, they're not entirely to blame. Responsibility belongs in the laps of the relevant Thai authorities -- for example, the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department manages access to the national parks, of which Ko Phi Phi Leh is a part.

The biggest fault lies with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, which has been pursuing a long-term strategy of driving as many tourists as possible to Thailand, with little discussion of the sustainability of these lofty goals. This year Thailand is targeting overall visitor arrivals of 28 million, an increase of around 13% on 2014. Nobody seems to be asking: can Thailand sustainably support 28 million tourists?

Phi Phi Leh can't.

The challenges faced by Thailand also face Southeast Asia. Look no further than Bali, where over-development, pollution, traffic, and yes those Chinese tourists, are the source of similar concerns.

Outbound tourism from China is here to stay -- they are the world's biggest spenders on international tourism -- but destinations like Thailand and Indonesia need to take a close look at how they're managing this exploding growth.

Any thoughts on this? Should tourist numbers to Thailand be capped or better managed? If so, how?


#1 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,003
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