China, Thailand visa-exemption agreement takes effect; more Thai tourists expected to visit China

(Global Times) 13:53, March 01, 2024

Staff members welcome Chinese tourists at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok, Thailand, Sep 25, 2023. Photo:Xinhua

Staff members welcome Chinese tourists at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok, Thailand, Sep 25, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

The mutual visa-exemption agreement between China and Thailand officially took effect on Friday, with bookings for two-way traveling orders surging on the same day as more Thai visitors are expected to visit China.

Industry insiders said the move will further smooth the bilateral economic and personnel exchanges in a wide range of fields, while showcasing China's continuous efforts in promoting high-quality opening-up.

The order number for Thai travelers to China on Friday on Chinese travel platform Trip.com increased by three times year-on-year, recording a more than 160 percent surge compared with 2019, the company said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Friday.

The popularity of searches for China-related keywords on Trip.com's Thailand website grew by more than three times year-on-year while increasing by more than one time monthly, the company said. Chinese cities including Shanghai, Guangzhou, Kunming, Beijing along with other cities are the top destinations for Thai visitors.

China and Thailand remained each other's top travel destinations, and the visa-exemption agreement taking effect will be beneficial to further consolidate the already established cooperation in various fields, Jiang Yiyi, deputy head of the School of Leisure Sports and Tourism at Beijing Sport University, said on Friday.

China has been supporting the development of outbound tourism, which will allow the global tourism sector to share the dividends of its steady economic recovery, Jiang told the Global Times. She added that the visa exemption between China and Thailand is just a snapshot of the country's ramped-up efforts in bolstering high-quality opening-up.

The estimated number of Thais traveling to China will double in 2024 compared to 2019 before the COVID-19 epidemic with around 600,000 to 700,000 Thais traveling to China, and the number will be over 1 million people, Bangkok-based news site Khaosod English reported in February.

Visa exemptions will meanwhile promote people-to-people exchanges and business communication, facilitating the travel convenience for people engaging in cross-border cooperation and investment from both sides.

China and Thailand have close economic and trade relations, with China being Thailand's largest trading partner and largest source of foreign investment, and Thailand being China's third largest trading partner among ASEAN members, with the bilateral trade reaching $126.28 billion in 2023.

In addition, China and Thailand are deepening cooperation under the framework of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, and more than 90 percent of goods traded in the region will eventually realize zero tariffs.

Jiang highlighted cooperation in industries such as education and talent training will be further strengthened, as China remains a top destination for Thai people seeking overseas education as well.

The number of Chinese travelers to Thailand on Friday grew by more than three times, continuing the already solidified momentum. More than 1 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand in the first two months of 2024, making China the largest source for outbound travelers to the Southeast Asian country, according to Trip.com.

The actual number of round-trip flights executed between China and Thailand in February reached 7,746, which has recovered to 64 percent of the same period in 2019, according to flight information provider VariFlight on Friday.

The visa exemption will help further boost the willingness from Chinese tourists to travel to Thailand, Spring Tour told the Global Times on Friday.

China and Thailand signed a mutual visa-exemption agreement in Bangkok in January this year. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the agreement would not only benefit tourism in Thailand and Chinese tourists but also enhance mutual understanding between the two peoples during a media briefing after attending the signing ceremony in Bangkok with his Thai counterpart Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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