Chiang Mai tourism stakeholders have stepped forward in a concerted effort to reiterate the city’s readiness both in terms of infrastructure and hospitality in welcoming all international tourists, especially Chinese travellers whose numbers have increased significantly over the last few years. The announcement was made during a joint press conference, held on 29 July 2016 at Chiang Mai Zoo, by Chiang Mai Province, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Royal Thai Police, Department of Transport, and the private sector represented by tourism-related associations.
Mr. Mongkol Suksai, Chiang Mai Vice Governor said, “Chiang Mai’s positioning as one of Thailand’s major tourist destinations is further strengthened annually. Chiang Mai has just been named the Top City in Asia as well as ranked second for the World’s Best Cities in the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2016 readers’ survey. In addition, Chiang Mai was voted the best destination among the 17 most favourites of the “2016 People’s Choice Awards Thailand Voted by Chinese Tourists.”
Over the years, Chiang Mai has reaped numerous awards. Chiang Mai was voted the 10th best city the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2013 readers’ survey. In 2014, the city was voted among the Top 25 Cities in the World by Condé Nast Traveller’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2014.
Mr. Mongkol added, “This may explain why Chiang Mai is now becoming one of the preferred tourist destinations among international travellers. Particularly for Chinese tourists, the hit Chinese comedy film ‘Lost in Thailand’ as well as our myriad choices of natural and cultural attractions have resulted in the increasing number of them. Hence, we are constantly improving all measures, ranging from safety and security, transport, and hospitality services to ensure our readiness in accommodating all tourists of all nationalities.”
In 2015, Chiang Mai welcomed 9.26 million tourists, including 2.8 million international visitors – of which about 800,000 being Chinese tourists (an increase of 30 per cent). For this year, the latest data available was from the first quarter which saw more than 240,000 Chinese tourist arrivals, a 40 per cent year-on-year increase.
According to the Thai Hotels Association Northern Chapter, Chiang Mai has more than 40,000 rooms. From January to June this year, accommodation establishments in Chiang Mai recorded an average occupancy rate of 78 per cent, or a four percent year-on-year increase. The association also reported that the number of Chinese guests rose by 15 per cent in the first half of this year.
Hence, the city is in the process of improving city-wide signage and tourists leaflets to incorporate Chinese and English languages. The first of such efforts is a sticker, carrying cartoon characters of an elephant and a panda and a Chinese phrase “Thailand extends warm welcome to our Chinese friends” (and in the next production will incorporate English with adjusted phrase to cover all international tourists).”
In addition, in a bid to address the matter of cultural differences, the TAT Chiang Mai Office has produced tourist leaflets in Chinese and English that listing 12 recommendations on local traditions (do and don’t) as well as traffic regulations. This came on top of many other city-wide efforts to strengthening tourist safety and security, upgrading access by air and land, and improving hospitality service standards.
In terms of access, the majority of visitors travel to Chiang Mai by air. Chiang Mai International Airport is currently being served by 27 scheduled airlines which operated 62,626 domestic and international flights in 2015, up 26.06 per cent over 2014. The Airport served 8,069,918 passengers in 2015, up 29.88 per cent over 2014. The airport is working on a development project that will increase its capacity from 8 million to 15 million passengers per annum by 2022. Qatar Airways will launch three flights per week from Doha to Chiang Mai in December, 2016.