It started with a little known, outside of China, 2012 Chinese comedy film directed and co-written by Xu Zheng called “Lost in Thailand”. The ever popular Chinese actress Fan Bingbing really put Thailand on the map for Chinese travelers. The numbers have surged every year since 2012 and in 2015 the number of Chinese tourists surged 71% over 2014.
As is the usual with Chinese tourism, this subsequently led to a wave of Chinese investing in real estate. In fact, 86% of Chinese property buyers started as tourists in the locations they settle down in.
The Chinese investment in Thailand came in waves. The first wave was business men creating the infrastructure for future Chinese tour groups in Thailand. So they invested in hotels, buses companies and hospitality across Thailand.
Next came the tourists interested in coming back to Thailand and marveling at the, compared to China, incredibly cheap residential home prices in Thailand. As these Chinese pioneers invested in hospitality and houses in Thailand they created pockets that attracted more Chinese tourists.
At first Chinese purchased real estate in cities like Pattaya, Koh Samui, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Bangkok. However, we are starting to see Chinese developers invest in major development projects in commercial, residential and hotel projects.
The standard pattern that we see worldwide is first Chinese business people invest in infrastructure to create a good environment for future Chinese tourists. Then we see wealthy Chinese travelers, then upper middle class Chinese tour groups and finally bargain basement mass Chinese tourism.
The services and areas that attract the initial thrill seekers eventually reach the Chinese mass tourism market and property investors then rise to become the largest foreign investors in the area. If the area has the legs for further tourism and investment we see real estate prices rising beyond what locals can pay and often temporary social strife as we are seeing in Arcadia, California, Vancouver, Canada and several areas in New York, Sydney, London, Los Angeles and Melbourne. It’s all part and parcel of the global property market in 2016 and Chinese are leading the charge worldwide.
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Paul Salo is the creator of the #1 real estate training course for reaching Chinese property investors. Paul speaks fluent Mandarin and Japanese and has been featured in China Business Network, ITV Asia and “HGTV: Shanghai, Living Abroad: American expats living the high life in Shanghai”