Chinese citizens visiting Thailand could get visa exemptions as early as the first quarter of next year.
Ministry of Transport permanent secretary Supoj Suplom said the Ministry of Tourism and Sports had proposed that Chinese travelers be permanently exempted from visas.
“I understand the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will try to make this materialize before the 2011 Chinese New Year,” said Supoj.
Chinese passport holders are among the nationals of some 21 countries currently required to pre-apply for a visa or obtain a visa-on-arrival.
Supoj added that Thai Airways International (THAI) also was undergoing a feasibility study with the Airports of Thailand to launch more flights from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport to China.
THAI currently operates 108 flights per week between Thailand and China. These run at about 80 percent cabin factor, according to its executive vice-president for strategy and business development Chokchai Panyayong.
Chinese tourists have returned to Thailand following this year’s political crisis, and the country is expected to welcome one million arrivals from China this year and 1.3 million for the next, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Thai-Chinese Tourism Alliance Association.