Thailand welcomes Chinese tourists’ for first time post Covid pandemic

 Wednesday, January 11, 2023 


After China relaxed travel restrictions, Chinese tourists have commenced outbound travel. One of the countries to welcome Chinese tourists is Thailand. Three Cabinet ministers of Thailand welcomed the Chinese tourists with flowers and gifts as they arrived on Monday at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.

269 passengers entered the terminal on Xiamen Airlines Flight MF833 from Xiamen in southeastern China.

Thailand’s Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and the ministers of transport and tourism were among those present while extending a warm welcome to the passengers.

The travelers received garlands and small gift bags, and were greeted by a big banner saying “China and Thailand are one family, Amazing Thailand always warmly welcomes our Chinese family.”

The welcome ceremony shows the importance Thailand places on luring back Chinese travelers to help restore its pandemic-hit tourism industry. Before COVID-19 struck, Chinese tourists comprised about one-third of all arrivals to Thailand.

As the Chinese tourists arrived, the Public Health Minister announced at the airport that visitors would not be required to show COVID-19 vaccination certificates.

Just two days earlier, the Transport Ministry had issued a detailed list of revised requirements for visitors from abroad, including the need to show proof of vaccinations. The announcement by the transport authorities itself was a sudden turnaround from what had been Thailand’s policy since October, when it dropped nearly all pandemic-related requirements for visitors from abroad.

Anutin said the only requirement retained from the Transport Ministry’s revised rules was that proof of insurance is needed for visitors coming from countries that require coronavirus tests before they return home. That condition would apply mostly, if not exclusively, to China.

On Sunday, Beijing lifted a mandatory quarantine for arrivals from abroad imposed when the pandemic began three years ago. The move is expected to unleash large pent-up demand for outbound travel.

In 2019, before the pandemic, around 11 million Chinese visited Thailand each year and tourism industry-related revenue accounted for about a fifth of the country’s GDP, Tanes Petsuwan, deputy governor for International Marketing in Asia and the South Pacific for the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Last year, 10 million visitors were expected, but 11.8 million actually came, mostly after restrictions were lifted in October.

“The TAT earlier projected there will be around 20 million international visitors this year, but it has adjusted that to 25 million thanks to the Chinese,” Tanes said. He said he expects arrivals to reach or surpass pre-pandemic levels in the next two to three years, possibly reaching 40 million by 2025.

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