While relations between Bangkok and Beijing remain warm, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is pursuing a more diversified foreign policy.
In early January, Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin enthusiastically announced that he would be waiving visa requirements for Chinese visitors to the country from March. The policy, which was formally signed by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Thai counterpart Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara on January 28, was a recognition of the massive importance of Chinese tourists to the country’s tourist sector – a key pillar of the Thai economy.
In 2019, the last full year before the pandemic, 11 million Chinese visited Thailand, contributing to a record 39 million international arrivals. Since Thailand’s international borders reopened over two years ago, the Thai government has been eager for Chinese visitors to return. This is because the tourism market is crucial for Thailand, at its height contributing an estimated 12 percent of Thailand’s gross domestic product.