China-Thailand to sign mutual visa waiver agreements to boost tourism post pandemic

The agreement, primarily aimed at facilitating seamless travel, comes as both countries grapple with the economic fallout and travel restrictions induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thailand and China announced on Sunday, January 28, the mutual waiver of visa requirements for each other’s nationals. The agreement, primarily aimed at facilitating seamless travel, comes as both countries grapple with the economic fallout and travel restrictions induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mutual visa exemption was formalized at a ceremony held in Bangkok, where the Foreign Minister of Thailand, Parnpree Bahiddha-Ankara, and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi signed the historic accord. The agreement, set to take effect on March 1, indicates a commitment from both the nations, Thailand and China, to revive and strengthen their tourism sectors, acknowledging the need to alleviate the adverse effects of the global health crisis.

Thailand, renowned for its picturesque landscapes, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality, has long been a favoured destination for tourists from China. However, the travel and tourism industry faced a severe downturn due to the adverse effects of the pandemic, with restrictions and safety concerns limiting international travel. The new visa waiver is poised to rekindle the tourism flame between the two nations and encourage the free movement of people.

The agreement reflects the diplomatic efforts to deepen bilateral ties and promote economic recovery. Both Thailand and China acknowledge the importance of tourism as a key driver of economic growth, and the visa exemption is a strategic measure to expedite the recovery process. In a joint press conference, Wang asserted, “This visa-free era will bring people-to-people exchanges to a new height.”

Beyond the economic implications, the agreement symbolizes the cooperative spirit between Thailand and China in conquering shared challenges. In the tourism industry of Thailand, China was a top source. However, the number of tourists from China visiting Thailand gradually slowed down. Before the pandemic, the number of Chinese tourists to Thailand in 2019 was 11 million but it eventually descended to 3.5 million last year.

Wang also stated, “There will be a big increase in the number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand.” Wang also said that Beijing and Bangkok pledged together to escalate the construction of the China-Thailand railway and work together in battling against transnational crimes.

With the mutual visa exemption set to come into effect in March, both countries are now poised to welcome a new chapter in their relationship, fostering closer people-to-people ties and sparking the engines of their respective tourism industries in a post-pandemic landscape.