Srettha Thavisin to bolster Thai-Chinese tourism, bilateral ties in China visit

Thailand's Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin reacts before he reads the policy statement at Parliament in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, Sept. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is slated for a diplomatic visit to China from Oct 8-10 to negotiate on 10 pivotal issues, among which strengthening bilateral relations and enhancing Thai-Chinese tourism cooperation take precedence.

The announcement came yesterday during his visit to Chiang Mai, where he also hinted at the renewal of the Thai-Chinese memorandum of understanding on the loaning of Chinese ambassador pandas to Thailand, set to expire in the coming months.

Government spokesman Chai Wacharonke informed that Thai-Chinese tourism cooperation will be a significant point of discussion during the visit. The government’s stance on maintaining equilibrium between Thailand’s relations with the US and China was clarified by Chai, stating that both are esteemed as major trade partners.

Srettha’s forthcoming attendance at the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA78) in New York City will present an opportunity to meet US President Joe Biden, US trade representatives and significant US companies. It is anticipated that this will provide an avenue for the Prime Minister to encourage US investors to invest more in Thailand, with plans for discussions with major tech firms.

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In a recent move to boost Thai-Chinese tourism, the cabinet approved a visa-free scheme for Chinese and Kazakhstani travellers that will run from Sept 25 until Feb 29 of next year. Following the visa-free programme announcement, there has been a notable increase in bookings by Chinese visitors to Chiang Mai, as reported by Srettha.

In light of the expected surge in Thai-Chinese tourism, Srettha highlighted the need for increased security measures for international visitors, particularly in Chiang Mai. The police force has been tasked with implementing intensive security measures to counter illegal activities involving Chinese nationals who may engage in dubious businesses or crimes on Thai soil.

He also emphasised the need to curb illegal activities which might tarnish the government’s efforts to stimulate Thailand’s tourism-dependent economy.

Srettha has previously held discussions with the Chinese ambassador to Thailand concerning pieces of fake news which have negatively impacted the Thai tourism reputation, agreeing on the adoption of a more proactive public relations approach to prevent similar occurrences.

Additionally, in response to the hazardous PM2.5 dust pollution that seasonally affects northern Thailand, a popular destination for many Chinese and other international tourists, the government has initiated negotiations with neighbouring countries to mitigate transboundary haze pollution caused by man-made wildfires.

Alongside these discussions, Srettha announced the planned construction of Chiang Mai’s second airport. As for the 30-day visa-free programme, its potential extension to cover other countries will be considered on a case-by-case basis, he added.

Furthermore, Srettha called for an end to the controversy over the cost of a charter flight arranged for him and several other cabinet ministers to the UN general assembly. He explained that the 30 million baht charter flight cost was actually less than a specially arranged Royal Thai Air Force flight, reports Bangkok Post.

In response to demands for further reductions in energy prices, Srettha assured that fuel prices will be cut following the completion of a current study on the matter. The government recently approved measures to reduce diesel and electricity prices, he added.

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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