Thailand may not see a rebound in the number of Chinese tourists for as long as a year, following a deadly boat accident that claimed 47 Chinese lives, a Chinese tourism expert said on Monday.
The comments came as global travel destinations anticipate an influx of Chinese tourists during the upcoming National Day Holiday, also known as the "Golden Week" holiday, from October 1 to 7.
In 2017, almost half of China's population traveled during the "Golden Week," according to a report from Xinhua News Agency.
A total of 705 million Chinese traveled around the country during the holiday, generating $87.8 billionin revenue, according to the report.
However, Zhang Lingyun, director of the Tourism Development Academy at Beijing Union University, said whether Chinese will return to Thailand depends on concrete measures taken to ensure visitors' safety.
"All in all, Chinese tourists' enthusiasm (for Thailand) may only return after one year or so," Zhang told the Global Times on Monday.
However, Chinese people's appetite for overseas travel is not likely to dissipate, which means the market share lost by Thailand will be taken up by rival destinations, Zhang said. "Japan could stand as the surprise winner."
According to a statement sent to the Global Times by Chinese online travel agency ctrip.com, data as of Monday showed overseas travel bookings holding steady for the upcoming National Day holiday, up 4 percent compared with last year.
However, in the current top 10 destinations, Japan surprisingly overtook Thailand as No.1.
Thailand has for a long time been the top destination for Chinese tourists.
Japan was trailed by Thailand, Singapore, the U.S. and Canada.
Italy, Australia, Russia, Vietnam and Malaysia held spots six to 10 in the ranking.
Online travel platform lvmama.com said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Monday that Japan is the top overseas destination for the upcoming holiday, trailed by Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.
The spending power of Chinese wanting to see the world has gotten the attention of the global tourism industry in recent years. Russia just benefited from a wave of Chinese tourists as it held the World Cup. India, too, wants to woo Chinese visitors with its rich tourism resources.
The Indian Tourism Ministry has planned roadshows and a dedicated tourist office.
It has also trained Mandarin-speaking guides and hosted Chinese media visits to India for the purpose, according to a report by the Indian Express on Monday.
India's Tourism Minister K J Alphons, who is visiting China this week, said that the situation where India only gets 250,000 out of 144 million outbound Chinese tourists a year needs to change.
Zhang said Chinese tourists favor developed countries, countries with good services and low costs when they make choices.
"Although India has great potential with its dazzling tourism resources, poor infrastructure, a wealth gap, low hygiene levels and unique food may prove challenging to the Chinese stomach, and that may hold its potential back," Zhang said.
Some tourists are shunning the U.S. because of the trade war between the two countries.
"I am annoyed at the U.S. position, and I avoided the country in my planning," a Beijing citizen surnamed Zhu said.