Thailand aims for 8 million Chinese tourists this year

By Hoang Phong   January 7, 2024 | 05:24 pm PT
Thailand aims for 8 million Chinese tourists this year
A Chinese tourist is welcomed by Thai traditional puppets during a welcome ceremony of the first batch of Chinese tourists under a five-month visa-free entry scheme at Bangkok's International Airport, Thailand, Sept. 25, 2023. Photo by Reuters
Thailand wants to welcome at least eight million Chinese tourists this year, double last year's figure, after both countries agreed to waive visas for each other's citizens beginning in March.

The visa exemption is resulting in an increased number of commercial flights between the two countries, which has helped push down ticket prices and boost Chinese arrivals in Thailand, said Chai Wacharonke, a government spokesperson, as quoted by the Bangkok Post.

Thailand expected to welcome five million Chinese arrivals last year but fell short of its target with only 3.51 million out of a total of 28 million arrivals.

A mall shooting last September in Bangkok that killed two foreigners, including a Chinese national, affected Chinese tourist confidence. A series of Chinese carriers canceled flights to Thailand for December and January due to low demand.

Before the pandemic, Chinese tourists were the biggest market for both Thailand and Vietnam.

In 2019, over 11 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand, accounting for more than a quarter of its total foreign arrivals while Vietnam received 5.5 million Chinese tourists that year.

But the number of Chinese visitors dropped to 1.74 million last year as South Korea emerged as Vietnam’s largest source of tourist with 3.6 million.

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