Chinese tourists get VIP welcome as Thai visa waiver scheme begins

Chinese tourists going to Bangkok recieved a VIP welcome on Monday, as Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin personally met the first batch of visitors to be landing in Thailand after it waived visas for Chinese nationals to provide a raise to the important tourism industry. Dancers in traditional costume and puppeteers also put on performances for the bemused visitors, who came on a flight from Shanghai. Many stopped to take selfies with Mr Srettha.

Tourism is a prominent driver of South-east Asia’s second-hugest economy, best recognised for its beautiful beaches and enjoyable and fun filled nightlife. Reviving the industry that was impacted so badly by the pandemic is one of the main goals of Mr Srettha, who is dealing with a low economy. But China’s own post-pandemic economic sadness have meant that fewer tourists from what was once Thailand’s hugest market are coming in, a situation Mr Srettha wishes the visa waiver can provide  to fix. “We are having immense faith that this policy will bring boost to the economy,” the Prime Minister conveyed to reporters at Suvarnabhumi airport, adding that tourist security will be on their topmost aim.

Before the pandemic, China was the hugest producer of tourists for Thailand, accounting for 11 million arrivals out of a record 39.9 million tourists in 2019, and spending 1.91 trillion baht (S$72.3 billion). Chinese tourists have a view that they are attracted to Thailand like bees are attracted to honey for its beaches and food. “The fruits here are wonderful, specifically the durian,” said Mr Ye Weihe, 53, who said he also has property in the beach town of Pattaya. In this year, till now, Thailand has rolled out a red carpet for a total of 19 million visitors.