The most popular boutique hotel in Thailand among Chinese tourists in 2016 was the Anantara Lawana Koh Samui Resort on Koh Samui Island. The most popular luxury hotel was the Rayavadee Hotel in Krabi.
These hotels were on a 14-point list of top destinations, resorts, activities, and luxury hotels for Chinese visitors chosen as the best by the 2017 People’s Choice Awards. The awards are voted on by Chinese visitors online and released by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
This project, which was also carried out in the past two years, is the result of a partnership between Tencent and TAT. Chinese visitors to Thailand were invited to vote and overall 3.7 million votes were cast. This is up from the 3.2 million Chinese visitors that voted in 2016.
The press releases for the event reportedly reached a total audience of 45 million through WeChat and other Chinese platforms. Voters were enticed by the opportunity to win various prizes, including a five-day holiday for two in Thailand, air tickets on Thai airlines, and vouchers for accommodations and activities.
Aside from Hong Kong and Macau, Thailand was the most popular foreign destination for Chinese tourists in 2016. Thailand is a cheap option for outbound Chinese tourists as prices for goods and services in the country are relatively low and flights from China to Thailand are quite inexpensive.
However, the new 2017 TAT list illustrates an effort to promote luxury, boutique, and other high-end hospitality services and activities to Chinese visitors. Categories included spas, shopping centers, golf courses and resorts, boutique hotels, and luxury hotels amongst others.
In many ways, the list and the effort behind it can be seen as a response to the increasing interest of Chinese tourists in boutique hotels and more “authentic and unique” travel experiences.
The TAT list also demonstrates an effective means of engaging with a broad range of Chinese tourists and promoting luxury travel options. While Thailand is the most popular destination for Chinese tourists, several other Southeast Asian nations are currently attempting to attract more Chinese visitors.
For example, the Indonesian government announced plans to attract ten million Chinese tourists by 2019. Although the number of Chinese tourists traveling to Indonesia has increased exponentially over the past few years, it is still struggling to reach this target.
The TAT list illustrates a creative means of engaging with Chinese consumers through Chinese social media to promote travel and luxury consumption. Similar efforts by Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam could help consolidate and encourage the growth of Chinese tourism and consumption to these destinations.