Home AsiaASEAN China Thailand Visa-Free Travel: A Win-Win for Tourism and Trade

China Thailand: With . Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, in a video message, warmly welcomed Chinese tourists, acknowledging their significant contribution to Thailand’s inbound tourism. This follows the recent mutual visa exemption agreement signed between China and Thailand, set to take effect from March 1.

Chanapan Kaewklachaiyawuth, Vice President of the Thai Chinese Tourism Alliance Association, expressed excitement, noting that the visa exemption will not only facilitate travel but also serve as a mechanism to boost economic gains. The association anticipates between 200,000 and 250,000 Chinese tourists entering Thailand during this year’s Spring Festival holiday.

In 2024, Thailand aims to attract 8 million tourists from China, doubling the 2023 figure and constituting 75% of the pre-pandemic peak in 2019. Singapore, which also signed a visa-free agreement with China, experienced a tourism sector recovery in 2023, with the Chinese mainland leading in tourist spending. The city-state anticipates further tourism recovery in 2024, driven by improved global flight connectivity and the mutual 30-day visa-free travel with China.

Thai Stocks in the Hotel Sector

  1. Minor International PCL (MINT)
    • Business: Diversified hospitality and leisure company.
  2. Central Plaza Hotel PCL (CENTEL)
    • Business: Operates hotels, restaurants, and food businesses.
  3. Dusit Thani PCL (DTC)
    • Business: Engaged in hotel and resort operations.
  4. The Erawan Group PCL (ERW)
    • Business: Operates hotels, resorts, and provides hospitality services.
  5. Bangkok Dusit Medical Services PCL (BDMS)
    • While primarily a healthcare company, it has interests in the hospitality sector, including hotels.

China’s tourism bureaus are actively promoting local attractions, employing innovative strategies to entice visitors. Cities like Harbin leverage their unique features, such as ice and snow tourism, resulting in record-high visitor numbers and tourism revenue.

Bookings for domestic and overseas destinations during the Spring Festival holiday have surged on platforms like Alibaba’s Fliggy. Countries like Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore waiving visa requirements have sparked enthusiasm for overseas travel, leading to a renaissance for both individual and group tours.

Looking ahead, 2024 is poised to be a significant year for China’s tourism industry, entering a new prosperous cycle, according to the China Tourism Academy. Chinese tourists are expected to make over 6 billion domestic trips, up from nearly 4.9 billion in 2023. Outbound trips are projected to reach 130 million, a substantial increase from over 87 million in the previous year.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) predicts a return to pre-pandemic levels in international tourism by the end of 2024. The unleashing of remaining pent-up demand, increased air connectivity, and a stronger recovery of Asian markets are expected to underpin this full recovery. The China-Thailand visa-free arrangement stands as a testament to the positive momentum in global tourism and trade.

Shayne Heffernan

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