China sees ‘big increase’ in arrivals to Thailand on new visa-free rules


BANGKOK/BEIJING: China predicted Thailand will see "a big increase” in visitors from the mainland after the two countries signed a pact on a visa-exemption program starting from March.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi signed an agreement with Thai officials in Bangkok Sunday to waive visa requirements for travelers between the two countries.

Tourists from China will be allowed to stay visa-free for a maximum of 30 days per entry in Thailand , and vice versa. For multiple entries. visitors can stay a total of 90 days within a 180-day period, according to a Thai foreign Ministry statement.

"This will bring our people-to people exchanges to a new height,” Wang said in a speech.

Chinese tourists were Thailand’s largest group of visitors before the pandemic and are seen as key to a sustained recovery of the country’s tourism industry, a main growth driver.

Travellers from the mainland accounted for more than 25% of the 40 million foreign visitors in 2019. That dropped to about 12.5% of 28 million tourists last year.

The Thai government targets 35 million foreign arrivals this year, with 8 million expected from China.

China is also Thailand’s largest trading partner and biggest source of foreign investment. The two countries agreed to strengthen their cooperation in transportation including speeding up the development of the China-Thailand railway.

China will also import more specialty agricultural products from Thailand and supporting the efforts of more Chinese companies which plan to invest in Thailand, Wang said.

Last year, Thailand issued temporary visa waivers for travelers from Russia, Kazakhstan, India and Taiwan. It has also been planning to allow longer stays for tourists from some countries to spur spending.

-- ©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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