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Thailand's hotel operators are gearing up for a potential surge in Chinese tourists during China's upcoming week-long holiday in early May.

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, President of the Thai Hotels Association, told Xinhua on Friday that the Southeast Asian country's inbound tourism has recovered faster than expected due to the return of Chinese visitors.

With increased flights during the summer season, as well as national holidays in September and October, Marisa anticipates that Chinese visitor arrivals will reach 60 percent of 2019 levels.

She said that hotels in Thailand are ready to serve Chinese guests, particularly during the low season with fewer European tourists.

According to Marisa, Thai hotels achieved an average occupancy rate of 71 percent in 2019, which plummeted to as low as 9 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, with the expected influx of Chinese tourists this year, the Thai Hotels Association predicts a recovery to a 60-65 percent average occupancy rate.

To attract more Chinese tourists back to the country, the industry group is collaborating with tourism authorities to facilitate travels to Thailand and organizing events to educate their members on the Chinese market.

Marisa noted that hotels are seeing more Chinese guests traveling independently and booking online, preferring high-end accommodations, shopping, and food.

While acknowledging the challenges and opportunities of handling a possible influx of Chinese tourists, Marisa believes that Thailand is making progress in "greening" the entire tourism supply chain, protecting natural resources and managing visitor numbers.

She encouraged Chinese travelers to explore not only the main cities but also new destinations and communities further afield.

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