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In order to make the prospect of travelling to a country that is still under military law, Thailand’s military junta is offering tourists from China free visas.
The Chinese market accounts for 18% of tourist arrivals in Thailand making them the biggest visitors however, they have also proved t me the most nervous, with numbers of Chinese arrivals slumping more than other nationalities after the coup.
Tourism accounts for about 10 percent of the Thai economy, and the imposition of martial law in May after the coup hit the industry hard. Winning back the Chinese visitors is imperative – spending by mainland tourists jumped 80 percent to $6 billion in 2013 from 2012.
Chen Wei, the manager of an outbound travel department for Asia at Shanghai Huating Overseas Tourist Co, said his firm had only one group of 20 tourists a week traveling to Thailand this month, compared with two to three groups a week of more than 30 tourists each last year.The number of visitors from China fell 41 percent in June – the first full month under military rule – from Hong Kong 46 percent, Japan 25 percent, and Korea 29 percent, while arrivals from Europe fell by three percent.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand said its new tourism promotion measures included a 30-day extension of stay for visitors from 48 countries and one territory, in addition to the free visa for Chinese guests, although tourists from many other countries don’t need holiday visas.