Visa-lah! Thailand and China ink deal to waive visas, turbocharging tourism

Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi (left) and Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara shake hands after signing the mutual visa-free agreement, yesterday, January 28. Picture courtesy of Bangkok Post.

After much anticipation and months of talks, Thailand and China yesterday officially sealed the deal on a reciprocal visa-waiver agreement, aimed at ramping up tourism between the two nations when it kicks into gear come March.

Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, solidified the pact at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok. Dubbed the Agreement between the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Mutual Visa Exemption for Holders of Ordinary Passports and Passports for Public Affairs, the agreement is set to come into force from March 1.

Wang, on an official visit to Thailand spanning from Friday till today, Monday, January 29, expressed his delight at the prospects.

“From March 1, our two countries will officially enter a visa-free era. This will surely bring our people-to-people exchanges to a new height. There will be a big increase in the number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand.”

Under the terms of the agreement, holders of valid ordinary Thai passports and Chinese passport holders for public affairs and ordinary passports will enjoy exemption from visa requirements for entry, exit, or transit into the other country for up to 30 days. However, cumulative stays must not exceed 90 days within any 180 days, except for specific purposes such as residence, employment, study, or media activities, which require prior official approval.

Minister Parnpree hailed the agreement as emblematic of the enduring friendship, trust, and confidence between the two nations.

“I am certain that travel between our two peoples, whether for tourism or business, will become more convenient, and help stimulate the tourism industry in both countries.”

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports is optimistic about the potential of the reciprocal visa-free scheme, forecasting approximately 8 million Chinese visitors this year, which could generate around 320 billion baht in revenue from their expenditure. Chinese tourists, previously the country’s primary group of visitors before the pandemic, are viewed as pivotal to the sustained revival of the tourism sector, a significant driver of economic growth.

While mainland China contributed about 27% of the 40 million foreign visitors in 2019, only 3.5 million visited last year out of the 28 million tourists. Malaysia emerged as the largest visitor market, with 4.4 million arrivals. The government aims to welcome 35 million foreign arrivals this year, banking on the newfound ease of travel between Thailand and China to help achieve this target.

Thailand NewsTourism News

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.

Related Articles