Thailand welcomes Chinese tourists

Southeast Asian nations are accepting more Chinese tourists now that Beijing has ended its zero-Covid policy. Thailand held an airport ceremony this week to welcome them, even as a change to its entry policy caused some confusion.

Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and other cabinet ministers greeted over 200 passengers who arrived on a flight from the Chinese city of Xiamen on Monday.

Thailand hosted around 11 million Chinese visitors in 2019, nearly 30 percent of all inbound travelers.

But the number plummeted after Beijing enforced its strict travel restrictions. The Thai government aims to attract visitors back to prop up its economy.

Some nations have imposed special requirements on visitors arriving from China. But Thai authorities treat them the same as those from other countries.

The Thai aviation authority had announced last week all arrivals from abroad needed proof of COVID vaccination. But the government rescinded that decision after complaints from tourism industry.

The sudden change caused confusion among some tourists and airlines.