China no longer Thailand's top tourist source due to visa issues

By Hoang Vu   August 14, 2023 | 06:19 pm PT
China no longer Thailand's top tourist source due to visa issues
People pose for a photo in front of lantern decorations on Lunar New Year's Eve at Chinatown in Bangkok, Thailand, January 21, 2023. Photo by Reuters
China was not Thailand's top source for tourists in the first seven months of this year, mainly because of visa hassles.

1.83 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand during January-July, about 20% of the same period in 2019, making China the second-biggest source of visitors after Malaysia, Global Times reported.

Before the pandemic, Chinese tourists were the biggest feeder market of Thailand's tourism industry. In 2019, over 11 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand, accounting for more than a quarter of its total foreign arrivals.

Visa hassles and flight availability have been blamed for the decrease in Chinese tourist arrivals.

Currently, flights to Thailand have not yet returned to pre-pandemic level, said Jiang Yiyi, deputy head of the School of Leisure Sports and Tourism at Beijing Sport University.

The visa approval time for Chinese visitors now takes two weeks and Thailand has said it will reduce the process to less than a week to ease travel from the world's largest outbound tourism market.

Many Chinese tourists complained the visa approval time was currently too long since it had taken only 3-5 working days to issue visas before the pandemic.

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