China will allow the resumption of overseas group tours to 20 countries, including Thailand, from February 6, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced Friday.
The Chinese authorities have given their approval for group tours and “flight + hotel” services in 20 countries. In addition to Thailand, these are Indonesia, Cambodia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Russia, Switzerland, Hungary, New Zealand, Fiji, Cuba and Argentina.
Thailand’s largest source of tourists
China is by far the largest source of tourists to Thailand, but the recent easing of travel restrictions by Beijing only applied to individual travelers.
Thailand was one of the most popular vacation destinations over the Lunar New Year, according to Trip.com, which reported a six-fold rise in travel searches from China.
As much as 7-8 million expected for the whole year
Chinese tourist arrivals are expected to start rising sharply in the second quarter of this year and could reach 7-8 million for the whole year.
According to a recent study by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, this could raise the overall number of foreign immigrants to between 26 and 27 million.
In 2019, Thailand welcomed 11.5 million Chinese visitors out of a total of 39 million international arrivals, of which about 4.3 million were from group travel. Tourism receipts from Chinese travelers represented 531 billion bahts in 2019, a significant part of the 1.9 trillion total.
No travel restrictions for Chinese in Thailand
After the exponential increase in Covid cases in China, many countries, such as South Korea and Japan, have imposed testing restrictions on visitors from China. But not Thailand, which remains the favorite destination for Chinese when they travel abroad.
Beijing has responded by ceasing to grant visas to residents of its two Asian neighbors, branding their entry requirements for visitors from China as “discriminatory.”