Good News for Travelers
So, get this—Thailand and China are making travel life easier for each other’s folks starting March. The Thai Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin, spilled the beans, saying they’re waving goodbye to visa requirements for citizens of both countries. This move comes after Thailand already nixed visas for Chinese visitors back in September. They were hoping to bump up the number of tourists coming in, and it seems to have worked like a charm.
Big Response to No Visas
When Thailand first axed the visa need for Chinese visitors, more than 22,000 Chinese travelers rushed in within just the first two days of the new policy. That’s a serious jump, especially when Thailand was starting to lose its cool for Chinese tourists.
All About Boosting Tourism
At a press conference, Prime Minister Srettha mentioned how pumped they are to welcome tourists from both places. It’s a big upgrade for their relationship and adds some extra shine to Thai passports, he said.
Tourist Numbers Game
Chinese tourists are a big deal for Thailand. They’re actually the second-largest group of foreign visitors, right after folks from Malaysia. But hey, even with this visa-free deal, Thailand’s Tourism Authority was aiming for up to 3.5 million Chinese visitors in 2023. That’s a bit short of their 4-million target, but it’s still a huge improvement from 2022, where they only got around 270,000 Chinese visitors.
Why the Shortfall?
So, why weren’t folks flocking to Thailand like before? Well, some say it’s the lack of cheap flights post-COVID and a slower economy back in China. But safety concerns also played a role—rumors about tourists being kidnapped and taken across borders to work scams, plus a shooting incident in Bangkok’s famous mall that shook people up.
Goals for the Future
Thailand’s Tourism Authority isn’t giving up though. They’ve set their sights on welcoming 8.2 million Chinese tourists by 2024. That’s a big leap, but hey, they’re hoping these visa changes will do the trick.
China’s Visa Game
China’s playing the same card to bring in more travelers too. They recently announced a trial run of visa-free entry for visitors from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia. Started in December, this program is going strong until November this year.
So, Thailand and China are basically rolling out the welcome mats for each other’s peeps. No visas needed means more tourists, and both countries are all for it.