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December 27, 2013

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Home » Metro » Entertainment and Culture

Visa-free travel to give Thai tourism a boost

The number of Chinese tourists to Thailand is expected to soar following a bilateral visa exemption deal that is expected to be signed between the two countries soon.

Thailand is one of the popular tourist destinations for locals, with most tour groups for the Spring Festival holiday next month sold out.

The Beijing Times quoted Huang Ping, director-general of the Department of Consular Affairs in the Chinese Foreign Ministry, as saying that negotiations on visa-free travel between China and Thailand have been completed.

Huang said he hoped more countries follow suit and sign bilateral visa-free agreements with China, the newspaper reported.

It costs 230 yuan (US$37.09) for a tourist visa to Thailand and it takes three working days to get the visa, the Thai consulate-general in Shanghai said.

Liu Xin, deputy general manager of the Shanghai China CYTS Outbound Travel Service Co, said travelers are taking a wait-and-see attitude toward the adjustment of visa policy, and the deal, whenever it is inked, should boost tourism to Thailand.

Liu said tour groups leaving the city on January 28, 29 and 30 are already sold out.

The Spring Festival is on January 31. Currently, six-day trips cost between 5,000 yuan to 6,000 yuan.

China’s biggest online travel operator Ctrip said the relaxation of visa will give a boost to backpack travelers.

Ctrip said backpack tours to Thailand surged by more than 100 percent this year, with tour groups rising 40 percent.

Although trips to Bangkok have been affected because of the political turmoil in the Thai capital, holiday destinations like Koh Samui and Phuket remain popular, Ctrip said.

The number of Chinese tourists to Thailand is estimated to rise to 5 million every year from the current 3 million.



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