Thailand should impose restrictions on Chinese tourists, says Pheu Thai MP

News that China is opening its borders to foreigners and relaxing Covid-19 restrictions was widely welcomed by Thailand yesterday as it looks to further boost its tourist economy. Today, MPs are warning that Thailand should tread lightly and impose restrictions on potential Covid-carrying Chinese tourists otherwise the kingdom could face another potential catastrophic pandemic.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Chaturon Chaisang, who is a member of Pheu Thai’s strategy committee, believes travellers from China and countries where a lot of Chinese tourists have visited should face restrictions.

“Given the [Covid outbreak] situation in China, Thailand should cautiously prepare for the influx of Chinese tourists.

“We should have some guards up…and tests should be administered to find out what kind of variants are coming in from China to find out if they are more severe than the variants that have been found in Thailand.”

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Chaturon’s comment came on the back of the mainland announcing that inbound travellers will no longer be subject to quarantine from January 8 onward.

The country also announced today that it would allow its citizens to travel abroad and measures are being put in place to facilitate travel for Chinese outside their country.

The move was welcomed by the Thai tourism sector as Chinese tourists accounted for more than a quarter of the 40 million visitors to Thailand in 2019, before the pandemic.

The latest Covid outbreak in China saw more than 20% of its almost 1.5 billion population infected with the virus. The World Health Organization warned that such an outbreak could lead to new strains.

Thailand’s weekly Covid hospitalization cases were less than 3,000 between December 18 and 24, reported Thai Enquirer.

China’s move to lift quarantine restrictions was welcomed by the private sector.

The Chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, Sanan Angubolkul, said yesterday that he expects about 5 million Chinese tourists next year compared to less than 300,000 this year.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand also changed its forecast for the tourist number in 2023 from 20 million to 25 million after Beijing’s announcement.

But, many people remain cautious because of the ongoing outbreak in China.

Countries such as Japan, India, and the United States are thinking of imposing restrictions such as having a negative Covid-19 test before Chinese tourists enter their country.

Chaturon said the Thai government should impose similar measures and closely monitor the outbreak situation in China to inform the Thai public about the ongoing situation to avoid public panic.

He said imposing such measures would allow travellers from other countries to feel safer from Covid when travelling in Thailand.

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Bob Scott

Bob Scott is an experienced writer and editor with a passion for travel. Born and raised in Newcastle, England, he spent more than 10 years in Asia. He worked as a sports writer in the north of England and London before relocating to Asia. Now he resides in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is the Editor-in-Chief for The Thaiger English News. With a vast amount of experience from living and writing abroad, Bob Scott is an expert on all things related to Asian culture and lifestyle.

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