Thailand announced on Thursday that travelers from China will not need to show a Covid test to enter the kingdom, banking on the return of Chinese visitors to revive tourism, a vital sector for its economy.
China is facing its worst outbreak of cases, mainly due to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, following the abrupt abandonment, in early December, of its so-called “zero Covid” policy.
The United States, Canada, Japan and France are among countries that have imposed new rules requiring travelers from China to provide negative Covid tests, amid growing concern over surging coronavirus infections. case.
Thai authorities said on Thursday that all countries should be treated equally.
“Thailand does not require Covid test results from tourists from any country,” Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters after a meeting between Thailand officials. health, tourism and transport.
Before Covid, China was Thailand's biggest source of foreign tourists, with nearly 11 million arrivals in 2019, or around 1 in 4 tourists, according to government data.
"This is an opportunity to restore our economic situation and recoup the losses we suffered for almost three years," Mr Anutin said.
In January, 60,000 Chinese tourists are expected to enter Thailand and the numbers are expected to increase gradually, according to Tanes Petsuwan, deputy governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
“We expect Chinese tourists to come to Thailand after Chinese New Year” in late January, Tourism Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakan said.
In 2022, the kingdom welcomed 10 million international visitors, a significant jump from 430,000 in 2021 but still far from the pre-pandemic level.
Thailand hopes to reach 20 to 25 million visitors this year.