Inbound tourism operators in Thailand are calling for clarity on new visa procedures, which they believe could have significant impacts on travel activities for tour groups and large meetings and incentive groups catering to the Chinese market.
Effective May 8, the Thai Consular Office in China will require every visitor to apply for an individual visa, regardless of whether they travel under the escort 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 at least 10,000 yuan. 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. However, many Chinese agents’ cards expired during the pandemic, and the 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 travelers to opt for other destinations like Vietnam, Hong Kong, or Macau, affecting Thailand’s target of attracting 5 million Chinese visitors this year.
The Association of Thai Travel Agents also reported that Chinese tourists have been overcharged by taxi drivers in Thailand, noting that the issue could further compound concerns over the new visa procedures that have been introduced for the Chinese market. (NNT)