BANGKOK (AFP) - A Chinese company is sending more than 12,000 people on a holiday to Thailand, tourism officials said Thursday, with one resort hosting a series of back-to-back banquets catering to thousands of guests at a time.
Thailand's tourism body said the enormous group of holidaymakers was one of the largest they had accommodated from a company in China, where employees and customers are often rewarded for meeting targets.
"It will be a challenge but it's one we relish," Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, the executive director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand's public relations wing, told AFP.
The 12,700 tourists are being sent by Infinitus China, a direct sales company, and began arriving in Thailand on 10 May, Chattan said.
They will travel in groups of up to 3,000 at a time and will make a six-day trip to Bangkok and the nearby seaside town of Pattaya, he added.
Those arriving include both employees of the firm as well as freelance sales staff and regular customers.
The visit comes less than a week after France received more than 6,000 Chinese holidaymakers from a single Chinese firm that booked 4,760 rooms in 79 four-and five-star hotels.
Itthiphol Kunplome, Pattaya's mayor, confirmed that the first batch of nearly 3,000 employees had begun arriving in his city.
"We are ready to welcome them and ready to facilitate their activities while they are in Pattaya," he told AFP.
A tour guide involved in the colossal task of organising 400 coach trips to ferry the groups said 300 colleagues would be on hand until the last holidaymaker leaves on 23 May.
"The company chose Thailand because they were impressed with our beaches, temples, cultural performances and fruits," he told AFP, asking not to be named.
Chattan said all the guests would attend one of a series of giant banquets at the Royal Cliff Hotel in Pattaya.
A planning schedule seen by AFP shows the hotel intends to host four nights of giant banquets, the largest of which will feed 3,935.
Tourism is one of Thailand's largest earners, usually accounting for around 10 percent of GDP, and China sends the largest number of tourists.
But the industry has taken a hit thanks to ongoing political instability and a significant drop in Russian arrivals following the rouble's depreciation.