Chiang Mai province is now launching citywide campaign to attract Chinese tourists with the erecting of signboards, posters at public places and stickers at shopping centres telling them that Chiang Mai people welcomed them wholeheartedly.
The campaign was jointly held by both the private sector and local government sector amid concern that the number of Chinese tourists to Thailand’s northern cities dropped significantly following strong criticism in the social media of the inappropriate behaviour of the Chinese tourists.
In Chiang Rai province, report said the number of Chinese visitors driving to Thailand via Chiang Rai border checkpoint dropped to almost zero following the imposition of stricter regulation for Chinese visitors who drive their own vehicles to the Thai northern cities.
The drop in Chinese visitors also followed the wave of negative feedback from the Chinese media towards tourism in Chiang Mai.
But now local administrators and private sector have assured everyone that they were happy to welcome Chinese tourists.
With signboards written in Chinese putting up all over Chiang Mai municipality, local people and authorities said they are part of a campaign that has been launched to reassure Chinese tourists that people in Chiang Mai were wholeheartedly welcoming Chinese visitors.
Also, stickers showing a Thai elephant shaking hands with a Chinese panda have been made to support the effort and are being widely distributed to all shops catering to tourists.
Effort by Chiang Mai authorities and residents was launched to counter the outcry raised by Chinese media over a number of negative comments that were posted online over the unseemly conduct of some Chinese tourists.
Chiang Mai deputy governor Mr Mongkol Suksai said people from different parts of the world have varying attitudes and behavioral practices.
Sometimes what they regard as normal is either unacceptable or considered ill-mannered for Thai people.
“But that doesn’t mean that they are wrong,’ he said.
“It is just a significant difference between cultures which on many occasions we as Thais are not accustomed to. That is why it is vital that we make them understand how Thai people are. It is our job to show them what is acceptable and more importantly what is inappropriate in Thai culture,” the deputy governor explained.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) stated that last year approximately 700,000 Chinese tourists visited Chiang Mai.
They represent the highest number of foreign tourists there and for the first 3 months of this year almost 250,000 Chinese tourists have already arrived in Chiang Mai.
Compared to the same period last year, this represents a 40% increase.