BANGKOK: Malaysia and Singapore are still tops among Thai travellers but China is the new darling beyond Asean, according to January to May 2002 statistics from the Thai Immigration Bureau.
Some 105,189 Thais went to China from January to May this year, marking a 23.26 percent increase from the 85,336 registered for the same period in 2001. Some 43,443 Thais visited Japan and 25,930 in Korea in the same period.
Asean countries are still the biggest outbound market for Thais. Of the 496,496 Thais who travelled to Asean 302,590 went to Malaysia, the biggest Thai outbound destination. Also recording significant increases were Thai visits to Vietnam (+43.83 percent), Myanmar (+33.14 percent), the Philippines (+17.35 percent) and Laos (+12.06 percent).
Some 109,409 Thais went to Singapore for the same period, a 5.13 percent decrease from the 115,326 Thais who visited in the same period last year. Trips to Hongkong are still popular although not as popular as the year before. Travel to the territory declined 7.51 percent from January to May 2001 to 83,231 this year.
The four major longhaul markets held on to their lead from January to May 2002 with Australia receiving 29,860 Thais, Germany, 19,544; the US, 14,551, and the UK, 11,576.
Thai outbound travel for South Africa is also on the increase. About 2,384 Thais travelled to South Africa from January to May 2002, some 44.05 percent higher than the 1,655 Thais recorded in 2001. The increase is second only to New Zealand, which received a 59.59 percent increase in Thai visitors (4,467 from January to May 2002 from 2,799 in 2001).
A total of 971,940 Thais traveled abroad from January to May 2002, up 5.63 percent from the 920,128 who visited during the same period in 2001.