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Bangkok Post - Srettha to welcome visa-free visitors
Srettha to welcome visa-free visitors
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Srettha to welcome visa-free visitors

Tourists arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport on Jan 8. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Tourists arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport on Jan 8. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin will welcome Chinese visitors at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Monday to mark the first day of the government's visa-free scheme for Chinese and Kazakhstani tourists.

He will lead a group of ministers and authorities at a welcoming ceremony organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) for Chinese passengers of Thai AirAsia X flight no XJ761, which will depart from Shanghai and land in Bangkok at 10.15am that day.

According to the Royal Gazette last week, easier entry and 30-day visa-free stays for nationals of China and Kazakhstan will start on Sept 25 and end on Feb 29 next year.

Kicking off the scheme, the TAT will arrange a ceremony to welcome the first group of visa-free tourists on Monday at four major international airports across the country: Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai and Phuket airports.

Tourism and Sports Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol said the ceremony will include a welcoming billboard and cultural performances. The tourists will also be presented with jasmine garlands and elephant-patterned pants, a popular souvenir among tourists in Thailand.

Ms Sudawan said the Tourism and Sports Ministry would work with the private sector on boosting tourism.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit said the scheme will help stimulate the economy. Chinese visitors will increase even more during their National Day holiday from Sept 29 to Oct 6.

He said flights from China are expected to jump from 72 to 96 flights a day after the scheme is introduced, with the number of Chinese visitors rising from 9,680 to 18,656 a day. The target of five million Chinese tourists for this year is achievable, he said.

Mr Suriya has ordered the Airports of Thailand (AoT) to prepare measures to cater to the increased number of tourists.

For example, immigration police at Suvarnabhumi Airport will staff all 138 counters to serve 7,140 passengers per hour, with each expected to spend less than a minute at the counter, he said.

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