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Chinese tourists top the Thai list News Feed

Travel analysts believe the figures suggest the number of Chinese visitors to Thailand will exceed the 3 million.

Figures released recently by the Tourism Authority of Thailand show that 1.5 million Chinese tourists visited the Kingdom from January to May 2013, making them the highest single source market for tourism and the first nationality ever to break the one million barrier within a three month period.

Travel analysts believe the figures suggest the number of Chinese visitors to Thailand will either match or exceed the 3 million arrivals achieved in 2012, especially as the combined number of arrivals from countries around the world grew by some 15 percent in the first quarter of the year to reach 8 million in total.

Visitors from East Asia comprised the majority of arrivals in the first part of 2013, totalling 3,623,713, an increase of 28.5%, with Malaysians in second place and the Japanese in third. In fact ASEAN countries accounted for more than 1.48 million arrivals in the first quarter of the year alone with the number of Indonesian and Singaporean visitors also increasing in number.

Although the nationality of visitors from Europe has changed, Thailand remains a popular choice for people from countries like Sweden, Denmark an Finland, with arrivals form the latter increasing by just over 70% this year. The number of visitors from Russia and Eastern Europe also remains high, showing an increase of 47% and 33% respectively.

The changing visitor demographic has also changed the dynamics of the tourism scene in Thailand, as Asian visitors tend to prefer shopping and local food to beach and marine activities.

However, islands like Phuket continue to attract sun lovers in their droves, many of whom enjoy the island so much that they either spend longer on holiday there, or relocate permanently. An estimated 100,000 foreign residents no call Phuket home and expatriate residents account for more than 20% of the island's population.

With the Tourism Authority predicting that total tourist arrivals to Thailand will reach 25 million in 2013, the number of international residents is also likely to increase as more people discover the joys of long term stays or retirement in the Land of Smiles.

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