Major tourism cities expect to see a rise in the number of Chinese tourists when the visa-free scheme for this segment of international arrivals kicks off on Monday.
Announced in the Royal Gazette last week after gaining cabinet approval on Sept 13, nationals of China and Kazakhstan can apply for up to 30 days of visa-free stay in the kingdom until Feb 29 next year.
The policy to woo back major international tourist segments is aimed at "quick win" tourism stimulation by easing entry restrictions to boost tourist numbers and give the economy a shot in the arm.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (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.
The ceremony will include a welcoming billboard and cultural performances. The tourists will also be presented with jasmine garlands and elephant-motif pants, a popular souvenir.
In Chiang Mai, Suladda Sarutilawan, director of TAT's Chiang Mai Office, said the province expected 164 Chinese passengers on its first two visa-free flights.
The TAT Office expected the number of Chinese tourists to Chiang Mai will jump from the 130,000 of the past eight months to 280,000 for the whole year.
If the target is achieved, it will represent a rebound of 20% or 1.2 million Chinese visitors to Chiang Mai from pre-pandemic numbers, according to Ms Suladda.
Pol Lt Gen Piya Tawichai, Provincial Police Region 5 commissioner, said officers will also look out for criminals trying to use the scheme to gain entry.
So far this year, Chiang Mai Airport has welcomed 143,225 Chinese visitors, bringing 1.387 billion baht in revenue to the province.