Officials consider visa-free entry for Chinese

Tourism officials are again proposing visa-free entry for Chinese citizens as part of a tourism revival scheme.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said the number of international tourist arrivals during Feb 1-9 fell by 43.4% year-on-year to 730,213 as the number of Chinese tourists plunged 86.6%.

Mr Phiphat said the Chinese market is likely to drop by 90% in February. But if the virus containment is effective and the Chinese government lifts its travel ban before the end of March, there's a strong possibility that mainland tourists will return during Songkran in April, he said.

Mr Phiphat said visa-free entry for two major tourist markets, Chinese and Indians, is an essential measure that will ease congestion at crowded airports.

"We plan to resubmit the visa-free policy to the cabinet in April, as the exemption for 2,000-baht visa-on-arrival (VOA) fees will end on April 30, but on the condition that the Chinese authorities handle the outbreak first," he said.

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Writer: Gary Boyle
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