Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has announced a permanent waiver of visa requirements between Thailand and China nationals, effective from March 2024 onwards. This move comes after Thailand initially waived visas for Chinese citizens in September in an effort to revitalize tourism.
The visa waiver program garnered significant interest, especially as Thailand faced a decline in Chinese tourists. Within the first two days of the waiver, over 22,000 tourists from China entered Thailand, marking a positive response to the initiative.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Prime Minister Srettha shared enthusiasm over the news of opening the country and extending its hospitality to tourists from China. He also emphasized the positive impact this will have on the significance of Thai passports.
Chinese tourists constitute Thailand’s second-largest foreign visitors, trailing behind Malaysians. The Tourism Authority of Thailand welcomed up to 3.5 million Chinese visitors in 2023, slightly below the 4 million target. Despite being lower than the nearly 11 million Chinese tourists in 2019, this projection represents a substantial improvement from the meager 270,000 visitors in 2022.
Challenges, like the scarcity of low-cost flights post-COVID and a slowing Chinese economy, have contributed to hesitancy among tourists to visit Thailand. Additionally, an incident such as the shooting in Bangkok’s prominent shopping mall in October 2023 has also heightened anxiety among tourists.
Looking ahead, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has set an ambitious target of welcoming 8.2 million Chinese tourists in 2024. Meanwhile, China has reciprocated by waiving visa requirements to attract tourists. In November, a visa-free trial was announced for visitors from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia coming to China from December 2023 to November this year.
Meanwhile, Japan has also taken measures to arrange short-term visa exemptions for 70 countries and regions, including Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United States, Canada, Qatar, Australia, New Zealand, and more. The period of stay and conditions vary per country. For complete information on Japan’s visa exemptions for short-term stays, please check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan’s website.
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