Thailand gears up for 1 million visitors during Chinese New Year

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand expects a million visitors during the upcoming Chinese New Year, 19 per cent more than last year, the country's tourism authority said on Monday (Feb 1).

Nearly half were expected to come from neighbouring countries - China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia, the Tourism Authority of Thailand said.

The Chinese New Year period, which falls from Feb 6 to Feb 14 this year, will generate around 29 billion baht (S$1.16 billion) in revenue, said the tourism authority, up 32 per cent from the previous year.

Tropical Thailand is a top destination for Chinese tourists, and there was little sign of them being scared off by the bombing at a shrine in Bangkok in August that killed 20 people, more than half of them foreign tourists.

Over 8 million Chinese travelled to Thailand in 2015, a record, and the country expects more this year.

The Tourism Ministry is preparing Chinese-language brochures, a spokesman said.

Vendors in Bangkok's Chinatown, where the streets are festooned with red lanterns, are preparing for the peak period.

Celebrations will include shows by music and dance troupes from around China. The city's Chinese restaurants are also preparing menus offering traditional seasonal dishes like dim sum and yusheng.

"In the Chinese New Year there are more Chinese staying at the hotel so we prepare accordingly," said Mr Wattana Krisanakan, manager of China House Restaurant, part of Bangkok's Mandarin Oriental hotel.

Thailand expects 32 million foreigners to visit its beaches and temples in 2016, a record driven by tourists from China, who helped turn Bangkok into the region's most-visited destination in 2015.