The Reason Why Many Chinese Tourists are Skipping Japan and Thailand for Travel

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Wondering why Japan and Thailand aren’t buzzing with Chinese tourists like they used to?

So, here’s the lowdown: According to a recent CNBC report (November 22, 2023), Japan and Thailand were the top picks for Chinese tourists at the beginning of the year. Fast forward to the third quarter, and Thailand slipped to sixth place, with Japan not far behind at eighth. These insights are courtesy of China Trading Desk, a company that tracks Chinese travel vibes every three months.

Now, let’s dig into what’s going on with Japan and Thailand.

Thailand: Film Frights and Foul Play

Here’s the plot twist – Chinese tourists are getting cold feet about Thailand, thanks to some recent Chinese movies that don’t exactly paint the country in a rosy light. These films, though not set in Thailand, echo real-life events, like the 2019 incident where a Chinese woman took a tumble off a cliff, courtesy of her husband in Thailand.

It’s these movies, especially the ones about young couples heading to Southeast Asia for new job adventures but getting caught up in online scams, that are messing with Chinese tourists’ heads. UN estimates suggest these scams aren’t just targeting the Chinese – hundreds of thousands of folks across Southeast Asia are getting duped.

And where do these scams thrive? Well, not just in Thailand but also in the border areas of Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. Victims come from all over – Southeast and South Asia, mainland China, Taiwan, and even Latin America.

Pia Oberoi, the Senior Adviser on Migration and Human Rights in the Asia-Pacific for the UN Human Rights Office, acknowledges that these issues escalated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Online scams saw a boom as the number of visitors dwindled and borders slammed shut.

But let’s set the record straight – despite the rumors swirling on Chinese social media, there haven’t been cases of tourists being kidnapped on the streets and dragged into some lawless ‘no-go zones.’

Oberoi notes that the government is trying to step in, but there’s still a lot of work to be done, especially when it comes to tackling corruption and enforcing the law in the region.

Japan: Food Fears and Fallout

Now, on to Japan. According to China Trading Desk, the massive release of treated radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean in August left Chinese folks feeling a bit iffy about visiting the Land of the Rising Sun.

A survey by China Trading Desk, involving over 10,000 Chinese citizens – 94% of them under 40 – spilled the tea on what motivates outbound travelers. Turns out, the number one motivator is stuffing their faces with delicious food (23%). Other reasons include soaking in local history and culture (22%), communing with nature (22%), and doing a bit of retail therapy (10%).

Even though big shots like the WHO vouch for the safety of seafood from Japan, the fears swirling among Chinese tourists have turned Japan from a go-to destination to one they’d rather skip.

Top Spots for Chinese Tourists in 2023 – 2024

  1. Singapore
  2. Europe
  3. South Korea
  4. Malaysia
  5. Australia
  6. Thailand
  7. United Kingdom
  8. Japan
  9. United States
  10. United Arab Emirates

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