Thailand welcomes Chinese arrivals with ceremony at airport

Thailand has held a ceremony at an airport near Bangkok to welcome Chinese tourists.

Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and others welcomed over 200 passengers who arrived on a flight from the Chinese city of Xiamen on Monday.

The number of Chinese arrivals plummeted after Beijing enforced strict travel restrictions under its "zero-COVID" policy to fight the coronavirus.

The number of Chinese traveling to Thailand in 2019, before the pandemic, stood at around 11 million, or nearly 30 percent of all inbound travelers.

As tourism is Thailand's key industry, the government plans to increase the number to prop up the country's economy now that Beijing has ended its policy.

Many governments around the world have imposed special requirements for arrivals from China after cases in the country surged.

But Chinese travelers to Thailand are treated the same as those from other countries. All are exempt from presenting proof of negative COVID tests.

Some tourists in Thailand expressed confusion after a Cabinet minister on Monday rescinded a policy requiring proof of COVID vaccination that was announced last week by health authorities.