Mainland China and Thailand plan bilateral tourist visa exemption programme
Mainland visitors to Thailand will no longer need a tourist visa to enter the country
China and Thailand are in talks to initiate a bilateral tourist visa exemption programme that is expected to start in September of this year.
The programme would potentially send millions of Chinese visitors to Thailand and boost ties between the two nations, reported Chinese news portal Nandu.com, citing reports by Thai media. Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra reportedly said that she hoped the mutual arrangement between the two countries would boost trade and investment, and bring at least five million Chinese to Thailand annually.
Currently, Chinese tourists in Thailand number about two million each year. Many arrive as members of group tours, and can buy 15-day visas issued upon arrival for a thousand baht (HK$248).
Guangdong Tourism Association vice president Li Jinmao told reporters that the visa-free initiative between the two countries would be especially beneficial to Guangdong business travellers, who would benefit from direct flights, since they were already practically living in Thailand’s “backyard”.
Local travel agencies interviewed by Nandu said that they expected Thailand’s popularity amongst white-collar mainland tourists to soar after September. The country’s profile in China rose after the release of the 2012 mainland comedy film Lost in Thailand, which generated more than HK$1.5 billion at the Chinese box office.