Thai politician criticised over claim that China has barred tourists after cannabis law
- An opposition politician said many Chinese tour operators have had to scrap trips to Thailand
- China’s embassy in Bangkok said Beijing had not issued any directives requiring Chinese travellers to cancel their trips to Thailand
Beijing has rejected a Thai politician’s claim that Chinese citizens had been barred from visiting the Southeast Asian country after it recently legalised cannabis.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, China’s embassy in Bangkok said “the government has not resumed overseas group tours that were banned since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic”.
It added Beijing had not issued any directives requiring Chinese travellers to cancel their trips to Thailand.
The embassy’s response came after some local media outlets and the opposition Pheu Thai Party leader Chaturon Chaisang said many Chinese tour operators had to scrap trips to Thailand following the latest travel clampdown.
Chaturon said on Facebook last week that cannabis decriminalisation could turn into a negative soft power and affect foreigners’ view of Thai culture.
He also said China had cancelled a schedule to allow tourists to visit Thailand.
Thai netizens criticised Chaturon for sowing division between the two countries and appreciated the embassy’s clarification.
“The politician’s action creates misunderstandings that can negatively affect international relations. Look forward to the day when Thailand will have the opportunity to welcome all Chinese tourists,” wrote a Facebook user.
China’s tough zero-Covid policy and quarantine rules have discouraged prospective visitors from the country, who once made up the largest share of foreign tourists in Thailand.
But despite the hassle, the Tourism Authority of Thailand said more than 36,000 Chinese tourists visited the country from January to May. It is also aiming to welcome 4 million mainland travellers next year.
Southeast Asian nations including Singapore have some of the world’s stringent anti-drugs laws. It hanged two drug traffickers in early July, taking to four the number of executions in the city state since March despite growing pressure to abolish capital punishment.