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Chinese package tours allowed to land in Thailand, 19 other nations from Feb 6
SATURDAY, JANUARY 21, 2023
Thailand is among the 20 countries that China has chosen to allow the resumption of group tours from February 6.
The Chinese Culture and Tourism Ministry on Friday gave travel agencies the go-ahead to start marketing package tours to the 20 countries. This decision was reported by the Chinese news agency Xinhua and the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok.
According to the embassy’s Facebook page, the 20 countries in this pilot project are Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Russia, Switzerland, Hungary, New Zealand, Fiji, Cuba and Argentina.
Thailand has seen an influx of Chinese tourists after China dropped the requirement for mandatory quarantine for inbound travellers from January 8. Since the requirement was lifted, Chinese travellers have been arriving in small groups.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects some 5 million arrivals from China this year. In 2019, the year before the pandemic hit the global tourism industry, Thailand welcomed 11 million tourists from China, accounting for more than a quarter of 40 million foreign visitors that year.
As many as 240 flights from China are scheduled to land in Thailand during the Chinese New Year break, from January 19 to 25, Aeronautical Radio of Thailand president Nopasit Chakpitak said.
He added that an average of 34 flights daily will be landing in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang, and Phuket and Chiang Mai international airports during the Chinese New Year period.
AeroThai estimates that the month of January will see a total of 1,160 flights from China, far fewer than the 12,209 flights recorded in January 2019.
In its announcement, China’s Tourism and Culture Ministry instructed provincial administrations to ensure that all Chinese travellers are safe and follow Covid-19 guidelines, the embassy said.
The local bodies have also been instructed to ensure that all package tours are in line with the law and do not include “unreasonably cheap tours”. This was an apparent reference to the so-called “zero-dollar tours”, which hit the Thai tourism industry hard years ago before a large-scale crackdown in 2016.
Zero-dollar tourism involves very cheap package tours in which Chinese tourists are taken on shopping trips to buy overpriced products. The hotels, restaurants, shops and bus services involved in these tours are normally operated by the same group of businesspeople, mostly Chinese, in cooperation with their Thai partners or nominees.