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Thailand and China to launch reciprocal visa-free scheme starting March 2024

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin announced the landmark initiative of Thailand and China launching a reciprocal visa-free program from 1 March.

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THAILAND – In a move to boost bilateral ties and promote tourism, Thailand and China are set to implement a reciprocal visa-free scheme for their citizens, as announced by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on Tuesday (2 Jan).

Following a cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister revealed that the permanent visa-free arrangement between the two countries would officially commence on 1 March.

Under the new initiative, travellers from both Thailand and China will no longer need to submit visa applications in advance for visits to each other’s countries, according to Mr Srettha, who also serves as the finance minister.

This development marks progress from Thailand’s previous visa-free program for Chinese visitors, initially slated to extend until 29 February.

The Prime Minister highlighted that discussions about the permanent and reciprocal visa-free initiative were ongoing when China excluded Thailand from its temporary visa-free scheme for five countries over a month ago.

Chinese tourists, the second-largest group of visitors to Thailand, are a key demographic for the country’s tourism industry.

Last year, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) reported that approximately 3.42 million Chinese tourists visited the nation, while Malaysians constituted the largest group with around 4.4 million visitors.

In the pre-pandemic year of 2019, Chinese visitors comprised the biggest group, totalling 10 million.

Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara announced on Tuesday (2 Jan) that he plans to visit China either this month or early February to formalize and sign the permanent visa-free agreement.

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