Thailand and China have decided to let each other's citizens travel between their countries without a visa. Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin announced this big news on Jan. 2. Starting from March 1, Chinese people can visit Thailand without a visa.

Thailand Welcomes Chinese Tourists with Visa-Free Entry to Boost Tourism
(Photo : Geoff Greenwood on Unsplash)

Thailand and China Agree on Visa-Free Travel

Before this, China already had a temporary visa-free entry to Thailand, which was going to end on February 29. SunStar Reported that the main goal of this new plan is to help Thailand's tourism. The tourism sector faced a lot of problems because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, Thailand welcomed around 40 million tourists, and they spent a lot of money, nearly 1.9 trillion baht ($53.2 billion). But in 2021, this number dropped a lot.

China is one of the main places where Thailand gets its tourists from. In 2019, almost 11 million Chinese people visited Thailand. This was about 27.6% of all the tourists that year. But the pandemic really hurt the tourism industry.

In the last year, Thailand had 28 million tourists from different countries. Among them, 3.4 million were from China. China was the second-biggest source of tourists for Thailand, after Malaysia.

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The decision to let Chinese citizens travel to Thailand without a visa came after talks between the two countries. Thailand's decision was also linked to China agreeing to do the same for Thai citizens. This exchange of visa-free travel will help both countries.

In China, a spokesperson from the Foreign Ministry said they are happy with Thailand's decision. Both countries are working on the details, and they hope to start this new rule soon.

Thai Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara plans to go to China in early February to sign the official agreement for this visa-free travel.

Thailand Cuts Taxes on Alcohol

Thailand's government has decided to lower taxes on wine, spirits, and entertainment places to attract more tourists. This change, announced by the Ministry of Finance, started on Jan. 2 and will last until the end of the year.

In a move to boost its tourism industry, Thailand has recently cut taxes on various alcoholic beverages and entertainment venues. Lawan Saengsanit, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance, shared that the excise tax on wine will go down from 10% to 5%. According to Just Drinks, taxes on spirits will drop from 10% to zero. This big step is taken to make Thailand a more attractive destination for tourists.

Besides, the import taxes on wines, which were between 54% and 60%, will not be charged for a whole year. Also, places like bars and clubs will enjoy a tax cut, with their excise tax halved from 10% to 5%.

This decision follows Thailand's successful tourist year, where they welcomed 28 million visitors. These tourists helped the country earn a lot of money, about Bt1.2 trillion. The government is also looking to make it easier for tourists to get tax refunds when they shop in Thailand.

ThaiBev, a major drinks company in Thailand, noted that these tax changes could lead to higher drink prices. However, they expect other companies to do the same. The company hopes that these tax cuts will bring more tourists to Thailand, especially after a year with fewer visitors from China.

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