THAILAND welcomed 39 tourists from Shanghai under a special visa scheme aimed at helping kickstart the country’s visitor economy.
The visitors arrived at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport yesterday under a program permitting foreign nationals who commit to stay for at least 30 days on a 90-day visa that can be renewed twice.
Travellers using the scheme must also quarantine for 14 days at a government approved hotel or hospital. Special insurance policies are also required along with pre-departure tests and the downloading of a Thai health ministry virus-tracking app.
The Shanghai group represented the first Chinese tourists to visit Thailand since Covid-19 broke out more than seven months ago. The pandemic has crippled the visitor economy in provinces such as Phuket, which relies on tourism.
In 2019, Thailand had attracted nearly 40 million foreign visitors, and a survey recently showed that Thailand tops the list of overseas destinations favoured by Chinese travellers once flight restrictions ease.
The group’s arrival in Thailand this week came as Hong Kong and Singapore agreed to flights between the two cities that would make passengers exempt from quarantine if they underwent tests.
Japan and China are meanwhile expected to agree on resuming business travel between the two countries under an arrangement that would not require a 14-day quarantine, according to reports. South Korea and Japan have also agreed to form a business travel bubble, while talks are underway between Tokyo and Vietnam.
According to the Japan National Tourism Organisation, about 9.5 million people visited Japan from China in 2019, with around 370,000 making business trips. Both numbers represented Japan’s biggest visitor markets.
Japanese and Chinese officials have been discussing ways of re-opening borders since July, due the relatively low number of infections in each country, the Kyodo news agency reported.
Main picture: Scene from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport before the Covid slowdown