News Travel Tourism: Thailand Exempts Chinese Tourists from Visas to Boost Tourism Sector
To boost the tourism sector in Thailand, the government has introduced a pilot program exempting Chinese tourists from visas, which has generated significant enthusiasm since its announcement in September.
Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin warmly welcomed the first Chinese visitors benefiting from this program at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport. This initiative aims to stimulate tourism in the country, a crucial industry representing approximately 20% of Thailand's GDP.
Since the reopening of borders in January 2023, authorities had hoped for a larger influx of Chinese tourists. However, only 2.3 million Chinese have visited Thailand this year, well below the 2019 record of around 11 million Chinese visitors.
The visa exemption program, in effect until February 29, 2024, for Chinese and Kazakhstani tourists, has seen significant success with a tenfold increase in bookings since its announcement.
The Thai government aims to welcome 30 million visitors in 2023, nearly tripling the number received the previous year. Despite economic challenges in China, including the release of a film that contributed to diverting tourists, the visa exemption appears to be an effective strategy to revive Thailand's tourism sector.
This initiative comes after a challenging period for the Thai tourism industry, which was heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and border closures in 2021. The new government led by Srettha Thavisin is working to revitalize the country's economy, which currently exhibits lower economic growth compared to its Vietnamese and Indonesian neighbors.