Thailand and China waive visa requirements for each other

Starting in March, Thai and Chinese citizens are free to travel between the two countries without a visa. The move follows a string of visa waivers, including Russia, Kazakhstan, India, and more. These waivers are expected to boost tourism to Thailand.

Here’s what will happen and why the move is significant to Thailand’s economy.

Thailand targets tourism from China

Image credit: Noppon Meenuch via Unsplash

It’s no secret that Thailand gets plenty of visitors from China. If you’re in a tourist hotspot, you’ll see signs in Thai, English, as well as Chinese. Pre-Covid, Thailand could expect upwards of 10 million visitors from China. In 2022, however, it received less than 300,000.

Partially to help boost tourism up to pre-Covid numbers, the Thai and Chinese governments have announced that the visa requirements for each other’s citizens have been lifted. Thai PM Srettha Thavisin said that this will be an upgrade to relations between the two countries.

The waivers are to take effect in March 2024.

More setbacks than just Covid

Image credit: Sayompoo Setabhrahmana via Wikimedia Commons

Thailand will have to contend with more than just the aftershock of Covid.

Chinese tourists have been cautious of returning to Thailand for travel due to safety concerns. Many Chinese travellers are concerned that they may get kidnapped and smuggled into working in scam centres in Myanmar or Laos. In fact, one of the most popular Chinese movies in 2023 is No More Bets which takes inspiration from this concern.

There have also been multiple mass shootings in Thailand, most recently on 3 October 2023 at a famous Bangkok shopping mall. One of the victims was a Chinese mother of two.

The current Thai government has begun to address these concerns, but it remains to be seen if Chinese travellers will return in droves.

Get ready to see more visitors

Despite the setbacks, the Thai government expects to receive over 8 million Chinese visitors this year. This is up from around 3.5 million for the entirety of 2023. So while it may not be in amounts as impressive as before, expect to see Thailand’s tourist hotspots packed with Chinese tourists in 2024.

But if you want to avoid those packed spots on your Thai vacation this year, check out our guides to lesser-known temples and secret beaches.

Cover image adapted from: Noppon Meenuch via Unsplash, Sayompoo Setabhrahmana via Wikimedia Commons

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