After a month of debate over the merits of allowing Chinese tourists back into the country, whilst China suffers from rising Covid cases, the Thai government has pulled out all the stops to welcome the return of Chinese tourists.
3 senior ministers headed to Suvarnabhumi Airport yesterday to welcome the first flight of the returning Chinese travellers.
A group of 269 Chinese tourists received a warm welcome from the Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, the Transport Minister, Saksayam Chidchob, and the Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.
The group had flown in on Xiamen Airlines flight MF833, which landed at Suvarnabhumi at around noon. They are the first large group of Chinese tourists to arrive in the kingdom since China ended its travel restrictions on Sunday.
Their arrival came as the Thai government performed another policy U-turn, with Anutin confirming the requirement for non-Thai arrivals to show proof of vaccination was being ditched.
According to a Nation Thailand report, the visitors were presented with garlands of orchids, souvenirs, and tourist information leaflets in Chinese. The welcome party also held a banner with a welcome message written in Chinese: “Chinese-Thais come from the same family. Amazing Thailand will always warmly welcome Chinese people.”
Meanwhile, the Tourism Authority of Thailand predicts that independent Chinese travellers will start coming back to Thailand later this month for the Chinese New Year holiday. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chinese were Thailand’s largest group of foreign visitors, with 11 million visiting the kingdom in 2019.
During the first quarter of 2023, the TAT expects around 300,000 Chinese tourists to arrive. Officials say there should be around 60,000 in January and 90,000 in February, rising to 150,000 in March. In total, tourism officials are forecasting around 5 million Chinese visitors during 2023.
SOURCE: Nation Thailand