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September 26, 2023

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It’s visa-free as Chinese get VIP Thai welcome

THAILAND extended a warm welcome to the first batch of visa-exempt flights from China yesterday, marking the launch of the nation’s fresh initiative to reinvigorate its Chinese tourist market.

Approximately 341 visitors from Shanghai landed at Suvarnabhumi airport yesterday morning, greeted with flowers and applause by the newly appointed Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and several senior Thai officials.

“This marks a promising first day for Thailand as we welcome Chinese tourists under the new visa-free entry policy,” he said at the airport’s welcoming ceremony.

The Southeast Asian country recently announced its decision to allow visa-free entry for Chinese tourists from yesterday until the end of February 2024, in line with Srettha’s commitment to enhancing Thailand’s economy through tourism.

“We are confident that this scheme will significantly boost the economy,” he said.

According to latest data from the Tourism Authority of Thailand, from January 1 to September 17 this year, Thailand recorded over 2.34 million Chinese tourists, approximately 37 percent of the same period in 2019.

With the help of the scheme, authorities hope to double the current number, anticipating between 4.01 to 4.4 million Chinese visitors for the entire year.

“Knowing that Thailand has lifted visa requirements for Chinese visitors, my mother and I made a quick decision to visit Thailand for a few days,” 25-year-old Tian Yumeng told Xinhua.

The stimulus visa scheme, effective just ahead of China’s Golden Week in October, has prompted airlines to gear up for expanding China-Thailand routes, increasing flight frequencies, and introducing new connections between favored Thai destinations and second-tier Chinese cities, according to TAT.

On the same day, flights from China’s Kunming, Changsha, and Nanning and landing in the Thai capital Bangkok and other popular tourist cities, such as Chiang Mai and Phuket, were also greeted with Thai-style welcome ceremonies.


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