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Thailand Yunnan's biggest source of international tourists

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Thailand topped the list of foreign travelers to Yunnan last year, with 185,390 Thais visiting the province in 2008, according to Kunming media reports citing Yunnan Tourism Bureau statistics.

Thai arrivals to Yunnan – which were up 94.6 percent on 2007 – are expected to continue to increase in 2009. Last year a 1,900 kilometer expressway linking Kunming and Bangkok through Laos opened, paving the way for buses and private cars from Thailand to drive into Yunnan.

Japan was the second-largest source of international visitors to Yunnan for the second consecutive year with 138,988 arrivals, down 5.7 percent from 2007. South Korea was the third-largest source of international travelers, followed by Malaysia, Singapore, the United States, France, Germany, The United Kingdom and Switzerland.

Travelers from the US totaled more than 100,000 for the first time, but perhaps the most notable statistic was the 659 percent increase in Indian arrivals to Yunnan, which totaled just over 25,000. Direct flights between Kunming and Kolkata in eastern India launched in late 2007.

Thai leisure and business travelers may be flocking to Yunnan, but Yunnan's presence in Thailand is also growing, with an estimated 100,000 Yunnanese living in Thailand.

The Thai-Yunnan Chamber of Commerce was recently established in Bangkok, highlighting the increased trade and business ties between Yunnan and Thailand, which are separated by less than 300 kilometers.

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Top three sources of arrivals in Yunnan are Thai, Japanese and Korean. Yet all the big travel providers only operate in Chinese and English. Kunming-based dajiudian.info is the only hotel booking system to have complete Thai, Japanese and Korean translations!

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