Xiamen Airlines MF833 flight from Xiamen to Bangkok landed at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport at around 12:00 on January 9, carrying 269 passengers, the first batch of Chinese tourists to Thailand after China implemented “Class B and B management”. Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health Anutin, Thai Minister of Transport Sashajan and Thai Minister of Tourism and Sports Pippa met the Chinese tourists at the airport and welcomed them to Thailand.
“Welcome to Thailand!” Anutin and his delegation extended a warm welcome to the newly landed Chinese tourists and presented them with exquisite gifts.
The number of direct flights from China to Chiang Mai and Phuket in Thailand is expected to increase significantly from January 18, according to the local airport.
Flights from China to Thailand will increase significantly
Thai official: Expect at least 5 million Chinese tourists this year
Currently, there is one direct flight a day from China to Chiang Mai and three a day to Phuket, and direct flights between the two countries will continue to increase in the future, Thepaper.cn reported, citing the Bangkok Post on Jan 11. Flights between Shanghai and Chiang Mai will begin on January 18, and flights from Guangzhou to Chiang Mai will also begin on January 20, while several other flights from Beijing, Chengdu to Chiang Mai and Shanghai to the northern Thai city are awaiting approval, Chiang Mai Airport director Wichit Kaeosaithiam said on January 10.
Wichit Kaeosaithiam said that before the outbreak of COVID-19, Chiang Mai Airport had 19 routes between China and handled 4,000 to 5,000 Chinese passengers a day, or 1.78 million a year.
Thanet Tantiphiriyakit, chairman of the Phuket Tourism Association, said tourism agencies in many countries have welcomed the “return” of Chinese tourists.
With China’s liberalization and the Thai government finally lifting most of the restrictions on tourist entry, the last obstacle to the recovery of Thailand’s tourism industry has been removed and the country’s tourism, service and social economy are expected to see a real recovery this year, the Manager newspaper commented, Global Times reported. Real economic indicators such as income and employment are expected to improve.
Yothasat, director of the National Tourism Authority of Thailand, said authorities hoped to welcome at least five million Chinese tourists in 2023, the Bangkok Post reported, but he was also concerned that flights had not fully returned to pre-pandemic conditions. He said only 15 Chinese flights were entering Thailand every week, compared with 400 before the pandemic.
Thai Ambassador to China Atthayut Xisam told the Global Times that the Thai Embassy and consulates in China have made preparations for the resumption of travel agency visas to Thailand. He predicted that once direct flights between the cities of the two countries resume, Chinese tourists to Thailand are expected to return to pre-epidemic levels soon.
Nearly half of China’s outbound tourists now go to Thailand
China’s policy of abolishing nucleic acid testing, centralized quarantine and optimizing travel between the mainland and Hong Kong and Macao came into effect at midnight on January 8, Beijing Daily reported. Outbound travel has resumed in an orderly manner after being shut down for nearly three years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The number of inbound and outbound ticket orders for Jan. 8 rose 628% year on year, setting a record since March 2020, according to agency data. Thailand, which is rich in tourism resources, is one of the top destinations for Chinese tourists to travel abroad. According to agency statistics, almost half of Chinese outbound tourists now go to Thailand.
Thailand is looking forward to the return of Chinese tourists. In 2019, before the epidemic, more than 10 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand, accounting for a quarter of the total number of foreign tourists to the country that year.