Return of Chinese tourists lights up Thailand hopes

By / Xinhua / Updated: 12:13,18-January-2023

Tourists from a Xiamen Airlines flight are greeted by a Thai government official as they arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok on Jan 9, after China removed COVID-19 travel restrictions. [Photo by Yang Wanli/China Daily]

A New Year light-up ceremony in Bangkok kicks off celebrations for the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Rabbit on Monday evening, as Thailand's biggest international airport is expected to welcome more than 1.8 million Chinese tourists in the following two weeks.

In Bangkok's Chinatown, officials in attendance at the ceremony included Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn and Chinese embassy charge d'affaires Yang Xin, as both the Thais and foreign tourists enjoy the bright and colorful festival lanterns and lights.

"The Chinese New Year is one of the most important festivals celebrated in Thailand. It has been one of the key cultural links for the century-long friendship of Thailand and China," Thai Minister of Tourism and Sports Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said during the ceremony. "I believe we will welcome more Chinese tourists this year."

Jan 22 marks the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Rabbit, which is mostly celebrated by the Thai-Chinese communities in Thailand with lion dances and fireworks. Several Thai provincial areas and cities are also holding Chinese New Year celebrations.

"It has been three years since we launched such large-scale Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in Thailand due to the COVID-19 pandemic," Yang said. "This year's celebration back to normal is really encouraging."

Yang said the Thais' efforts in holding such celebrations carry significance for the mutual sharing of festive happiness and prosperity.

"I hope the celebrations give the best wishes to a deeper and closer cooperative relation between China and Thailand," Yang said. "And I'm also looking forward to seeing more Chinese tourists visit Thailand, exploring its beautiful natural scenery, and cultural diversity, and enjoying the enthusiasm of people from the smiling country."

According to local media, Thailand has been among the top travel destinations ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year. Its capital's biggest international airport Suvarnabhumi Airport is expected to welcome more than 1.8 million Chinese tourists between Jan 16 and Jan 28.

Increasing numbers

To handle the increasing numbers of travelers during the holiday period, the airport has announced enhanced measures such as additional check-in counters and making baggage drop-off service available four hours before departure.

Moreover, the airport has provided interpreters to meet airlines' requests. It is also providing Chinese language signs at the airport's shops and restaurants.

Kampon Adireksombat, first senior vice-president at Siam Commercial Bank's Chief Investment Office, told the Bangkok Post that China's recent policy adjustments for cross-border travel are major positive factors not only for the Chinese economy, but also for other countries that have high exposure to trade, investment and tourism with China.

The new policy for international travelers to China is "the most important easing measure that will likely benefit" the Thai economy in 2023, he said.

YANG WANLI in Bangkok



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