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Easier travel for Chinese visitors to Thailand

Reporter: Martin Lowe 丨 CCTV.com

10-27-2016 04:03 BJT

Good news for beach lovers and travellers - China and Thailand are considering abolishing visas for travel between the two countries. The plan is being discussed in both Beijing and Bangkok. Chinese people now want to travel more than ever before, and many countries are keen to capture their business.

They’re courted by countries across the globe. Visitors from China are now the main target for travel and tourism organizations worldwide.

As China’s wealth grows, so too does the income of its citizens. Here in Thailand, more visitors arrive from China than any other country – up to 4 million this year. And that figure could rise even higher if a plan to abolish visas goes ahead.

"Thailand is very beautiful, the food is cheap and the service is good. I like it here, I love it. If there is no visa I will come many times a year," a Chinese tourist said.

At present a visa for a Chinese citizen to travel to Thailand costs around 40 US dollars. But more importantly, it can take up a week to obtain.

Only the Thai Embassy in Beijing and consulates in seven cities including Shanghai and Guangzhou can process visa applications. Travel agents believe if visas are abolished, it will encourage more tourists to visit.

"It will be very good. Chinese visitors will spend more money on hotels and shopping, the travel industry will be more active," said Preecha Chen, general manager, Dong Thai Travel Group.

"If they cancel the visa we could see as many as six million Chinese tourists a year. But I’m not sure we’re ready for so many visitors yet."

Visa-free trips are expected to have a big impact on travel patterns.

More and more Chinese people are choosing to travel independently rather than join package tours – more than a third of all Chinese visitors to Thailand are doing so this year. Visa-free travel would allow anyone to simply pack a bag … and come here.

In 2012, Chinese were the world’s highest-spending tourists, handing over 102-billion dollars worldwide. In Thailand, they spend an average of 160 dollars each day.

Other countries, including the United Kingdom, are considering a similar visa-waiver in the rush to capture the Chinese yuan.

But Thailand is the first in south east Asia – looking to be at the front of the queue. The exemption would be two-way. Visa-free travel to China would also be available to Thais.

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