Thailand and China have signed off on a visa waiver agreement at talks between their foreign ministers as the two countries look to boost ties.
The agreement inked yesterday by Thai Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi allows people from the two nations to travel to one another’s country visa-free from March 1.
Thai officials hope the deal will encourage more Chinese to come and boost the kingdom’s vital tourism sector, which has struggled to bounce back from the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
“This agreement is a symbol of our long-lasting friendship, trust and confidence ... and help to stimulate the tourism industry in both countries,” Parnpree said.
Wang welcomed the agreement, saying that Thai and Chinese people “are one family”.
“This visa-free era will bring people-to-people exchanges to a new height,” Wang said.
Precise details of the visa arrangements were not announced yesterday, but earlier this month Thai officials said the deal would allow stays of up to 30 days per visit.
“There will be a big increase in the number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand,” Wang said.
The number of Chinese tourists to Thailand plunged to 3.5mn last year from 11mn in 2019 before the pandemic.
Beijing and Bangkok also pledged to speed-up the construction of the China-Thailand railway and work together in combating transnational crimes, Wang said.
Before his talks with Parnpree, Wang held two days of talks in Bangkok with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan covering the sensitive issues of Taiwan and the attacks in the Red Sea by Houthi rebels.
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