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Chinese airlines cancel flights to Thailand as demand drops

The Thai PM is defending the temporary visa waiver recently introduced for Chinese tourists, despite several airlines cancelling slots due to low demand. According to a Bangkok Post report, a number of Chinese carriers have cancelled landing and take-off rights for Thailand due to being unable to fill flights.

Thailand recently introduced temporary visa-free entry until February 29 next year for arrivals from China and Kazakhstan. There was a short-lived uptick in Chinese arrivals when the scheme was launched, with numbers going from 17,000 a day to 18,000.

However, that temporary rise coincided with China’s big Golden Week holiday period. Once that was over, numbers dropped to between 8,000 – 9,000 a day. They then increased again to 10,000 – 11,000 a day in November.

PM Srettha Thavisin says the low demand is the result of China’s still-sluggish economy, coupled with stimulus measures introduced by Beijing to encourage domestic tourism. The PM insists Thailand’s tourism sector would be in worse shape without the visa-exemption scheme.

The PM goes on to say that the government will continue to launch tourism promotions in other markets, possibly expanding the visa-exemption scheme to other countries. Officials have already discussed the possibility of extending visa-free stays to 90 days for European travellers.

Meanwhile, the director-general of Airports of Thailand has confirmed flights from China are at 60% of pre-pandemic levels. Kirati Kitmanawat says other countries are experiencing the same, with most places reporting 50% of pre-Covid arrivals.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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