Low-cost carriers help lift Chiang Mai tourism

CHIANG MAI is only a step behind Phuket in terms of airport traffic at resort cities beyond Bangkok with 2016’s total being 4,664,938 inbound passengers which is a year-on-year growth of 13%, Bill Barnett, managing director of C9 Hotelworks said in his company’s latest research paper.

The increase in airlift is due to increased international demand which has jumped 44% over the past five years.

Capture“This segment began to surge in 2011, with traction coming from Greater China. A strong shift in overseas source markets was due to media exposures in 2012, which popularized the destination amongst Chinese visitors due to the success of the Lost in Thailand film,” Mr Barnett said.

While domestic arrivals increased at a more moderate pace with compound annual growth rate (CAGR) averaging 18% from 2012 to 2016, there was a total of 439,561 domestic travelers last year with the rise mainly being due to an increase of low-cost airlines which added 903 flights during the year.

“We foresee solid demand from the broader market, with LCCs (low cost carriers) expected to add new routes to the destination. As we move through early 2017, the impact of Thailand’s crackdown on zero-baht Chinese tours is expected to ease and foreign arrivals normalize,” Mr Barnett said.

This research also mentions that currently Chiang Mai has a total of 33,593 keys in 831 registered and unregistered tourist accommodation establishments.An additional 524 keys are expected to come on stream by 2019, with the majority of pipeline properties concentrated in the Old City catchment area.

However room inventory per hotel is scaling down with the trend towards boutique hotels and hostels

Bill Barnett, managing director C9 HotelworksOther key points mentioned in C9 Hotelworks’ research on Chiang Mai:

• Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports estimated total tourist arrivals grew 3.65% last year, with strong domestic uplift offset by a slight contraction in foreign travelers.

• In 2016, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Chongqing and Chengdu were amongst the top feeder cities from Greater China, with 5,346 direct flights routed between the region and Chiang Mai.

• Hotel average daily rate market-wide increased to 3,385 baht according to STR, as occupancy was slightly down due zero-baht tourism crackdown.

• Plans for the upgrading of Chiang Mai International Airport includes runway expansion and terminal extension, which will increase total capacity to 20 million passengers by 2030.

• An intercity motorway project connecting Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai is currently under review by the Highway Department, with a potential commencement by 2020.

• Increasing flights from domestic airports and new international routes will enhance Chiang Mai as a leading gateway for the Mekong region.


Top: Chiang Mai’s moat. Photo: Stefan Fussan (CC-BY-SA-2.0)

Inset: Mr Barnett says impact of the crackdown on zero-baht Chinese tours will ease this year.

Below: Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is located in the heart of the city, on the Chan Klan road, between Tha Pae and Sri Donchai roads. It is famous for its handicrafts and portrait paintings. There are also jewelry, toys, clothing and high tech items such as, CDs and DVDs. The market is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Chiang Mai. Photo: David McKelvey (CC-BY-2.0)

Chiang Mai night bazaar



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