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 enjoy a boat ride at Benoa Bay in Bali, Indonesia, on Feb 13 last year. XINHUA

Inbound tourism boost

Guangzhou-based GZL, a major travel agency in southern Guangdong province, was one of the first travel agencies to organize group tours to Thailand after China announced the resumption of outbound group tour services at the beginning of last year. The tours had been suspended for three years due to the pandemic.

Guan said the number of visitors to Thailand grew steadily last year, although the rate of recovery is still below expectations owing to some tourists' personal safety concerns. The mass shooting at Siam Paragon Mall in Bangkok on Oct 3 that left two tourists dead, and car accidents involving Chinese tourists have discouraged some Chinese travelers from going to Thailand.

According to Maybank, those safety concerns have restricted the potential rebound of Chinese visitors to Thailand. However, Maybank noted Thailand's strong push to attract tourists from other countries is paying off, with an influx of visitors from India, Malaysia, Russia and South Korea.

While Guan is confident that the visa-free policy will encourage more Chinese tourists to come to Thailand, he also issued a note of caution."Thailand is facing more competitors as many countries have also offered or are ready to offer visa-free policy to Chinese tourists," he said.

On the other hand, he is very optimistic about the potential of China's inbound tourism under the mutual visa-exemption policy. In 2023,GZL's branch in Hainan province served more than 10,000 foreign tourists under visa-free policies from about 70 countries, he said.

"China is a large country, the visa exemption will definitely stimulate the growth of inbound tourism. Travelers can have various options and experience the diversity of China in many more places and each route will be unique and impressive," Guan said.

In Indonesia, I Putu Winastra, chairman of the Bali chapter of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies, said the visa-free policy will encourage more tourists to stay longer and spend more. He added that this will encourage a greater number of tourists to visit other places in Indonesia aside from popular hot spots like the resort island of Bali.

Leonardus Jegho in Jakarta contributed to this story.

< 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