BANGKOK — High Thai officers welcomed a whole lot of Chinese language vacationers at Bangkok’s worldwide airport on Monday, the primary day of a brand new visa-free entry program that officers say will enhance the nation’s tourism business that was badly broken by the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin handed out presents and posed for photos as his tourism minister and different VIPs greeted about 300 vacationers from Shanghai. The stunned vacationers had been entertained by Thai conventional dancers and drummers contained in the arrivals space at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

“We’re assured that this coverage will significantly enhance the financial system,” Srettha instructed reporters. He mentioned that the federal government plans to advertise Thailand’s smaller cities as locations for Chinese language vacationers to encourage them to remain longer and spend extra.

Addressing security issues amongst vacationers, Srettha mentioned it was the highest precedence of the authorities. There have been studies and rumors extensively circulating on Chinese language social media about fraud and kidnapping in Thailand.

A vacationer from Shanghai, who recognized himself solely as Dai, mentioned he was impressed with the “very vigorous” welcome ceremony on the airport, although he famous that the immigration officer who checked his passport didn’t instantly know in regards to the non permanent visa exemption coverage. He mentioned he plans to remain for 2 weeks and go to different cities apart from Bangkok, together with Chiang Mai and Phuket.

Peng Chunyu and Wan Yi, who arrived on the identical flight, mentioned it was an important coverage for Thailand to permit visa-free entry for Chinese language. The method was “very clean,” mentioned Peng. The 2 will keep for 9 days and mentioned they stay up for seeing Bangkok’s Grand Palace, Wat Arun temple and Chinacity.

The visa exemption, which additionally applies to guests from the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan, will probably be efficient till Feb. 29. Tourism Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol mentioned there was a few 30% surge in lodging and flight bookings because the coverage was introduced.

China greater than a decade in the past grew to become a serious supply of vacationers to Thailand, with virtually 11 million guests in 2019, accounting for 27.6% of all arrivals that 12 months earlier than the pandemic devastated the vacationer market.

The federal government proposed the visa exemption measure resulting from concern that the variety of Chinese language vacationers may be decrease than anticipated this 12 months due to strict visa necessities. The goal variety of arrivals from China had been revised from 5 million to three million after a report from the state Tourism Authority of Thailand that round 1.4 million Chinese language vacationers got here within the first six months.

Tourism Authority Director Thapanee Kiatphaibool mentioned Monday that the authorities had been assured the variety of Chinese language arrivals might hit 4 million-to-5 million after the visa-free program was launched.

Thailand’s financial system slumped through the pandemic as its enormous tourism business just about collapsed. The nation obtained about 40 million guests in 2019, and the federal government estimated they spent 1.9 trillion baht ($53.2 billion) — an quantity that plummeted by greater than 99% by 2021, in keeping with information from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports activities.

Chai Wacharonke, a spokesperson for the prime minister, earlier mentioned that Thailand obtained 15 million worldwide guests within the first seven months. He mentioned the federal government goals to attract 28 million vacationers and generate 1.4 trillion baht ($39.2 billion) in income in 2023.

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