Visa-free travel opens 'big door' to region

Updated: Feb 19, 2024 By PRIME SARMIENTO in Hong Kong and YANG WANLI in Bangkok CHINA DAILY Print
Share - WeChat
Chinese tourists in Thai traditional dress at a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, Thailand, on Jan 17. SIRACHAI ARUNRUGSTICHAI/GETTY IMAGES

Business benefits

The visa-free policy will not only boost Chinese arrivals in ASEAN but also help increase Chinese investment in the region, experts said.

Norman Bin Muhamad, Malaysia's ambassador to China, told China Daily that his country is aiming to attract 5 million Chinese tourist arrivals every year through the new visa-free policy. Before the pandemic, over 3 million Chinese tourists visited Malaysia in 2019.

According to Ibrahim Suffian, co-founder and director of programs at the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research, the Malaysian government is pursuing more business investment from China. He said visa-free travel will encourage greater communication between Chinese and Malaysian businesspeople.

"China is Malaysia's biggest trading partner so there's already a great deal of travel between the residents of these two countries," Ibrahim told China Daily. He said the mutual visa-free travel policy won't only strengthen trade relations, but also people-to-people exchanges between China and Malaysia.

Both the Chinese and Thai governments are optimistic that the mutual visa-exemption policy will encourage more people-to-people exchanges.

Veen Nornapporn, a Bangkok-based property consultant, is looking forward to the mutual visa exemption as she is eager to return to China. Veen has traveled to Yunnan and is keen to visit Shanghai and Beijing in the near future.

"Thai people love traveling and we are very curious about China, its culture, history, scenery and also the food. Chinese mala is now very popular among young people in Thailand," Veen said, alluding to a spicy seasoning made from Sichuan peppercorn and chile.

She said China is one of the most popular destinations among Thais because of its proximity and close family connections. About 10 percent of Thailand's more than 71 million people are ethnic Chinese.

Apart from the visa-free policy, the Thai government also announced plans recently to launch a "Muay Thai" visa to attract more visitors and promote Thai martial arts worldwide.

Foreign tourists who want to learn Muay Thai at gyms certified by the Sports Authority of Thailand can apply for a non-immigration educational visa at Thai embassies. Once foreign tourists arrive in Thailand, they are eligible to stay for up to 90 days if they are enrolled at a certified training center.

"All those policies are an incentive to the travel industry from both of the countries. Outbound tourism in China has recovered gradually since last year," said Guan Jian, spokesman of GZL International Travel Service, adding that Southeast Asia is still a popular choice with Chinese tourists.

< 1 2 3 4 >

Copyright©2024 China Daily. All rights reserved.


京公网安备 11010502032503号 京公网安备 11010502032503号