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Thailand no longer top overseas destination for Chinese tourists

Pattaya is a popular destination for visitors from China but all overseas group tours have been banned because of the coronavirus outbreak. (Bangkok Post photo). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

BANGKOK, Nov 23, 2020, Bloomberg. Thailand has lost its spot as the most popular cross-border destination for tourists from mainland China, according to a survey by HSBC Holdings Plc, as neighbouring Japan and South Korea moved up the list, Bangkok Post reported.

“Barring Hong Kong and Macau, Japan and Korea emerged as the top two preferred cross-border destinations,” analyst Parash Jain wrote in a report. “This reinforces our view that short-haul travel will recover earlier than long-haul international travel.”

The survey, conducted from Oct 28 to Nov 2, also found flight bookings are being made further in advance than they were pre-pandemic, which could reflect greater demand for leisure travel than business.

Most survey respondents said they’d need at least six months after quarantine restrictions are relaxed to become comfortable with international travel, and an effective vaccine is key to boosting confidence, Jain said. The survey also showed people are more confident about domestic travel thanks to China’s success in containing the virus.

HSBC has buy ratings on the Hong Kong-listed shares of China’s Big 3 airlines — Air China Ltd, China Southern Airlines Co and China Eastern Airlines Corp — thanks to their large domestic market. Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, which doesn’t have that luxury to fall back on, is rated hold with a price target of HK$6.87.

Cathay’s shares were down 4.1% at HK$6.84 as of 3.39pm in Hong Kong on Monday, heading for their biggest loss in two months. The stock fell after the launch of a travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore was postponed.

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