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Thailand may grant a temporary visa waiver to Chinese tourists

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Thailand is considering granting a temporary visa exemption for Chinese tourists from October, in an effort to boost arrival numbers. The number of Chinese tourists visiting the kingdom has fallen well short of the official target, according to a Thai PBS World report.

Previous forecasts from the tourism ministry stated that between 5 and 7 million Chinese tourists were expected to arrive between January and July. However, just 2 million arrived. The economic slowdown in China is seen as the main culprit, with many Chinese having to cut back on spending. The expensive air fares are not helping either.

Many Chinese are opting to travel within China instead of forking out for international travel at this time. Thai travel agencies also point to stories about Chinese tourists being preyed on by Chinese gangs in Thailand, saying such stories have potentially scared people away.

According to Thai PBS World, newly-elected PM, Srettha Thavisin, has met with a number of tourism representatives to discuss visa exemption for Chinese travellers. However, the report says the proposal needs careful consideration by security agencies, due to the risk of criminals taking advantage of the scheme.

If it goes ahead, Chinese tourists would be granted visa-exempt entry on a temporary basis, from October.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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