Zheng Xu’s Lost in Thailand, a low-budget comedy in the style of the Hollywood hit The Hangover, has become China’s most successful film of all time, raking in box office sales of more than £130m.
The 2012 film has also proven a hit with Thailand, which has seen the film’s popularity boost tourism from China.
Many countries are chasing the Chinese tourist yuan, but Thailand has been more successful than most at attracting well-heeled Chinese visitors, who populate the gleaming shopping malls of Bangkok. According to figures from Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Ministry, 2.78 million Chinese tourists arrived in Thailand last year, up by 62 per cent from 2011.
Chinese travel agencies have offered specially designed tours to locations featured in the film, much of which was shot in Chiang Mai in the north.
There are lots of low-cost carriers serving Bangkok, which makes it an easy option for middle-class Chinese, and Thailand offers mainland tourists visas on arrival without any need to pre-apply.
While China has tense relations with many of its neighbours in the region over territories, it has no dispute with Thailand on any areas in the South China Sea, which is also a boon, and has seen Thailand pick up some of the tourists who would have gone to Japan.
Zheng Xu is apparently now working on a sequel to Lost in Thailand. Tourist authorities across Asia will surely be hoping he chooses it to locate in their country.