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