Bangkok, Sep 25 (EFE).- Thailand began to apply on Monday the visa waiver for Chinese travelers, a temporary measure until Feb. 29 with the aim of reactivating tourism, which is yet to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin received the first group of Chinese tourists without a visa at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, and posed for photos with them.
Chinese travelers accounted for nearly a third of the nearly 40 million foreign tourists that Thailand received in 2019.
However, the numbers plummeted due to the Covid-19 pandemic and have not recovered as expected after the end of travel restrictions.
Thailand, whose economy is heavily dependent on tourism, has seen the number of foreign travelers fall from nearly 40 million in 2019 to 6.7 million in 2020 and 428,000 the following year, although it recovered to 11.15 million in 2022, according to official data of the tourism ministry.
Last year, only 273,567 Chinese tourists arrived in Thailand, compared to 11.13 million in 2019.
The temporary visa exemption for tourists is part of the plan of the new Thai Government – formed on Sep. 5 – to recover the Thai economy, severely impacted by the pandemic and which has been recovering at a slower pace than expected by the authorities.
A resurgence of tourism and the recovery of consumption, investments and exports are some of the priorities set by the new government, formed after almost four months of political impasse in the parliament over the election of the prime minister. EFE