Thai tourism preps for Chinese arrivals – but rules out COVID tests

File photo of Chinese tourists. Photo: Bicanski
File photo of Chinese tourists. Photo: Bicanski

The Chinese are coming, and while COVID tests have been ruled out, health and tourism officials said they will discuss preparations.

Millions of Chinese travelers are expected after unrest forced Beijing to drop its zero-COVID policy, and Thai officials said they would meet Thursday to talk about how to accommodate them before COVID-related travel restrictions are lifted Sunday. They did not mention any proposals.

Thai tourism upgraded its forecast for Chinese arrivals to around 5 million people after widespread December protests there prompted the government to announce the imminent end of a national travel lockdown that had stretched three years.

In January alone, about 50,000 are expected to arrive in Thailand, according to Yuthasak Supasorn of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Before the pandemic, Chinese travelers accounted for 28% – nearly a third – of visitors. In 2019, nearly 12 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand. Popular destinations included Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, and Phuket. 

Thailand has already ruled out tests upon arrival for COVID-19, which is currently believed to be burning through China after years of hardline containment measures. 

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said last week that he did not expect a big influx to take place rapidly. He said Thailand would not require mainland travelers to test before boarding or after their arrival.

Governments in France, Spain, Britain, Japan, South Korea, India, and the United States have said they will tighten COVID-19 measures for the Chinese, including mandatory masks on flights from China and negative test results. 


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