Thai-China ties to hit new high

Thai-China ties to hit new high

Reciprocal visa-free scheme a tourism boost

A Chinese tourist takes a selfie with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, centre, during a welcome ceremony of the first batch of Chinese tourists under a visa-free entry scheme at Suvarnabhumi airport on Sept 25, 2023. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
A Chinese tourist takes a selfie with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, centre, during a welcome ceremony of the first batch of Chinese tourists under a visa-free entry scheme at Suvarnabhumi airport on Sept 25, 2023. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The Thai-Chinese Cultural Relationship Council (TCCRC) and the Chinese ambassador to Thailand are confident the mutual visa exemption scheme for nationals of the two countries will stimulate outbound tourism and further strengthen bilateral ties.

"This Chinese New Year is special because it marks the beginning of a new era for Sino-Thai relations," said TCCRC president Pinit Jarusombat.

He added that China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi coming to Thailand to sign the contract on Jan 24 and staying over for three days was also an exceptional sign.

The reciprocal visa-free scheme, which takes effect on March 1, permanently waives visa requirements for each other's citizens.

The waiver scheme aims to relieve travel difficulties for Thai and Chinese travellers while encouraging more Chinese to travel to Thailand.

Thailand is the destination most favoured by wealthy Chinese travellers because Thailand has a culture similar to China's.

Thailand is also considered a hub for investment and education in the Asean region, Mr Pinit said.

The waiver also benefits Thais travelling to China as they no longer have to wait for a visa for months, he added. "I believe it will increase the travel frequency between the two countries tenfold in the next two years," Mr Pinit said.

Chinese tourists on average spend at least 20,000 yuan, or 100,000 baht per person while travelling in Thailand, he said. This revenue from tourism will contribute to businesses at various levels.

Han Zhiqiang, the Chinese ambassador to Thailand, said the visa exemption will bring the two countries closer together, like siblings.

"More associations will lead to stronger relationships, and make the saying that Chinese and Thais are not distant but brothers and sisters even more true," he said.

Mr Han also reiterated China's role in helping push for world peace after he attended a meeting with the Chinese government.

"China has a policy to cooperate with neighbouring countries and other nations in the world. Several policies have been issued to tighten such collaborations," he said.

"Cooperation with Thailand will improve much more in the future," said Mr Han.

TCCRC president Mr Pinit said bilateral trade value between Thailand and China in 2024 may reach US$200 billion (7.1 trillion baht).

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