Tourism sector wants Prayut to raise Covid travel exemption for Chinese tourists with Xi
The Thai tourism sector on Thursday called on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to personally request Chinese President Xi Jinping to ease Covid travel restriction so that Chinese tourists could return to Thailand.
Sitthiwat Chiwaratanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA), said Prayut should raise the issue directly with Xi when the Chinese president attends the Apec Summit on November 18-19.
“I would like Prayut to request the Chinese president about relaxing the rules for Chinese tourists to return to Thailand,” Sitthiwat said.
“But it would be require the art of negotiation because China is still enforcing its zero-Covid policy. If we ask them to allow tourists to visit us and if they reply “No”, we’ll be in a difficult situation. So, what we should tell them is that Thailand is waiting for Chinese tourists all the time.”
Meanwhile, Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said so far the chance was slim for Chinese tourists to return to the kingdom because the Chinese government was enforcing the zero-Covid policy.
But, Phiphat said Prayut might hold talks on the sidelines of the summit on the tourism issue.
“We expect that during a meeting with Xi, we’ll ask the Chinese government to ease restrictions for certain provinces so that the Chines tourists could return to Thailand,” Phiphat said.
“I would like to urge the prime minister to raise this issue with Xi and I expect a positive result.”
The Tourism Authority of Thailand has predicted that if China reopens its country before the Chinese New Year early next year, Thailand will see about 30 million foreign arrivals next year. Without the Chinese, the number of foreign arrivals will be around 18 million.
Meanwhile, TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said a total of 7.613 million foreign tourists had visited Thailand from January 1 to October 31 this year.
He said the top five countries whose citizens visited Thailand during the period were:
Malaysia: 1,290,863 arrivals
India: 682,911 arrivals
Laos: 559,383 arrivals
Cambodia: 387,250 arrivals
Singapore: 377,282 arrivals.