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Thai PM greets arrival of Chinese tourists on inaugural visa-free day

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Thailand extended a warm welcome to the first batch of visa-exempt flights from China on Monday, marking the launch of the nation’s fresh initiative to reinvigorate its Chinese tourist market.

Approximately 341 visitors from Shanghai landed at Suvarnabhumi airport on Monday morning, greeted with flowers and applause by the newly appointed Prime Minister (PM) Srettha Thavisin and several senior Thai officials.

“This marks a promising first day for Thailand as we welcome Chinese tourists under the new visa-free entry policy,” Srettha said at the airport’s welcoming ceremony.

The Southeast Asian country recently announced its decision to allow visa-free entry for Chinese tourists from Sept. 25 until the end of February 2024, in alignment with the PM’s commitment to enhancing Thailand’s economy through tourism.

“We are confident that this scheme will significantly boost the economy,” he said.

According to the latest data from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), from Jan. 1 to Sept. 17 this year, Thailand recorded over 2.34 million Chinese tourists, approximately 37 percent of the same period in 2019.

With the help of the scheme, authorities hope to double the current number, anticipating between 4.01 to 4.4 million Chinese visitors for the entire year.

“Knowing that Thailand has lifted visa requirements for Chinese visitors, my mother and I made a quick decision to visit Thailand for a few days,” 25-year-old Tian Yumeng told Xinhua.

“Our entry went smoothly, and the warm welcome we received, both on the plane and upon landing, has been delightful. I am eagerly anticipating our time here,” said Tian.

Srettha noted that ensuring tourist safety is their top priority, right from the moment visitors set foot in the country until they depart with a memorable experience.

To achieve this, several staff from the tourism police department are present at the airport, using Mandarin to introduce and assist tourists in downloading an app, all as part of their ongoing efforts to enhance safety and ensure a seamless travel experience in Thailand.

The stimulus visa scheme, effective just ahead of China’s Golden Week in early October, has prompted airlines to gear up for expanding China-Thailand routes, increasing flight frequencies, and introducing new connections between favored Thai destinations and second-tier Chinese cities, according to TAT.

On the same day, flights from China’s Kunming, Changsha, and Nanning and landing in the capital and other popular tourist cities, such as Chiang Mai and Phuket, are also greeted with Thai-style welcome ceremonies.


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