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Thailand’s tourism sector keen to welcome Chinese tourists back

Written by Thailand News

Thai tourism businesses in Chiang Mai and Phuket are keen to welcome the return of Chinese visitors, after about three years of absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Chinese Government lockdowns.

Worapote Chatkanchana, president of the Chiang Mai Sky Travel Company, told Thai PBS that, during the 3-year pandemic, the company survived by selling off more than 20 of its 70 buses.

The first flight carrying Chinese tourists from Xiamen arrived at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok at around noon today (Monday).

He said that the company has passed its lowest point and is now recovering, with increased arrivals from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, adding that, although the numbers are still small, their return has enabled the company to start re-hiring some of its laid-off staff. He disclosed that between 40 and 50 Chinese tour agents, both old and new, had approached the company.

He said, however, that he has no tour groups from China planning to visit Thailand, due to expensive air fares and limited flights from China, as Chinese tour agencies wait for aclear policy from the Chinese Government about tour groups.

Before the pandemic, Worapote said that a return ticket from China was between 2,000 and 3,000 yuan, but the air fare now has shot up to almost 10,000 yuan, which is not affordable formany Chinese.

He said he is still confident that Chiang Mai remains a magnet for Chinese tourists, whose numbers are expected to increase in April and peak in October.

In 2019, an average of between 4,000 and 5,000 Chinese tourists arrived in Chiang Mai each day on about 19 flightsbetween Chiang Mai and various Chinese cities. 1.78 million Chinese tourists were recorded in 2019.

In Phuket, Governor Narong Woonsiew assured that the province is ready to cope with the arrival of Chinese tourists,adding that there are currently about 30,000 tourists visiting Phuket.

He said that the province has always been on guard against COVID-19 and has strictly complied with the precautionary measures adopted by the government.

He disclosed that the Tourism Business Association in Phuket has lodged a complaint with him about the sudden change of the entry rules, such as the requirement for arriving tourists who are over 18 to have had at least two doses of vaccine and hold health insurance coverage, including COVID, of at least US$10,000.

The tourism businesses claim that such a sudden change in the rules has caused foreign tour agencies to cancel more than 1,000 hotel room bookings.

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