First Chinese group expected in time for Year of the Ox under travel bubble


The Tourism and Sports Ministry will discuss the option of building a travel bubble for Chinese tourists with the Chinese Embassy, with the aim of drawing visitors from 22 provinces in China that have been free of Covid-19 for more than 150 days.

The travel bubble involves opening cities to exchange tourists without the necessity for isolation.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phipat Ratchakitprakarn said the ministry will cooperate with the Public Health Ministry before proposing the idea to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration and the Cabinet.

He expects the Cabinet to approve the proposal before January 1, while the ministry expects the first group of Chinese tourists to arrive under the new arrangement during Chinese New Year in February.

“Once the Cabinet approves the idea, the ministry will discuss the option with the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok, while the Foreign Ministry will discuss the plan with its Chinese counterpart. After that, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will discuss the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping,” he added.

Meanwhile, he said, the Scandinavian group that was expected to arrive under the Special Tourist Visa will not arrive this month because the country is under a second lockdown.

“However, government and private agencies will continue promoting tourism,” he said, adding that the ministry has called on tourism operators in Phuket to use their customer database and invite people to visit Thailand. The Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Thailand Longstay Company have also been told to help.

“Hence, we expect the number of foreign arrivals in Thailand this year to stand at 6.8 million, though the second lockdown in Europe is making it tough to draw tourists to Thailand,” he added.