China and Thailand to ink agreement for mutual visa exemption, boosting people-to-people exchanges


China and Thailand are set to sign a historic agreement on mutual visa exemption, scheduled to take effect from March 1, 2024. Chinese experts anticipate that this policy will significantly enhance people-to-people exchanges and foster stronger bilateral relations between the two nations.

The signing ceremony will involve Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara. Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin expressed optimism about the positive impact of the visa-free policy, expecting a resurgence in the domestic tourism market with the return of Chinese tourists.

The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the upcoming agreement, emphasizing its potential to boost tourism. Thai Tourism and Sports Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol predicts over 150,000 tourists from the Chinese mainland during the upcoming Chinese New Year, a substantial 335 percent increase from 2023. This surge is anticipated to provide a significant economic boost to Thailand’s tourism industry.

Qunar, a major travel platform, reported that Thailand ranks as the most favored destination for Chinese tourists during the Spring Festival holidays, underscoring its popularity among travelers.

Chinese experts view the visa exemption as a mutually beneficial initiative that will play a crucial role in fostering people-to-people exchanges and strengthening bilateral relations. Gu Xiaosong, the dean of the ASEAN Research Institute of Hainan Tropical Ocean University, emphasized the positive impact on tourism in both countries. Given Thailand’s status as a major global tourist destination, the agreement is expected to lead to a record-breaking increase in personnel exchanges between China and Thailand.

Gu Xiaosong anticipates heightened people-to-people exchanges, including a surge in students studying abroad from both nations. Moreover, the agreement is projected to stimulate political and economic cooperation, particularly in mutual investment and trade.

China has been actively pursuing visa exemption agreements with Southeast Asian nations. In addition to Thailand, mutual visa exemption agreements have been reached with Singapore, set to take effect on February 9, 2024, and Malaysia, which implemented a 30-day visa-free travel policy for Chinese citizens from December 1, 2023. Analysts emphasize that these agreements will not only encourage more open exchanges in the region but also have a positive spillover effect on other countries. This commitment reflects China’s dedication to high-level opening-up and international cooperation.



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