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Saturday 29 April 2023

Visa rules a blow to Chinese tourism to Thailand

Tourism operators in Thailand are fearful new visa rules might threaten their business models aimed at attraction visitors from China.

Inbound operators are calling for clarity on the new visa procedures, which they believe could have significant impacts on tour groups and meetings and incentive groups catering to the lucrative Chinese market.

The National News Bureau of Thailand reports that from May 8, the Thai Consular Office in China will require every visitor to apply for an individual visa, regardless of whether they travel as part of a tour group.

Additionally, the number of applicants per travel agent will be limited, and applicants must submit a hotel reservation document and a financial document showing they are in possession of at least 10,000 yuan (around $2,200 in Australian dollars).

Some agents can only reserve visa applications three days a week with 20-30 applicants per round.

The new visa rules also require travel agents to present a certified document allowing foreign visa applications and a "yellow card" issued by the Chinese government, which must be renewed every one or two years, our Thailand correspondent reports.

Many Chinese agents’ cards expired during the pandemic, however, and a slow renewal process caused by a lack of officers made it impossible to renew them.

There are concerns that these new regulations could prompt Chinese travellers to opt for other destinations like Vietnam, Hong Kong, or Macau - adversely affecting Thailand’s target of attracting 5 million Chinese visitors this year.

The Association of Thai Travel Agents also reported that many Chinese tourists have been overcharged by taxi drivers in Thailand, noting that the issue could further compound concerns over the new visa procedures.

Image: Sonam Parmar,  

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