Chinese tourists are returning to Thailand for their first trips abroad since Beijing dropped its strict Covid-19 curbs and reopened its international borders.
With China celebrating the Lunar New Year, Asia’s tourist hotspots have been bracing for the return of Chinese tourists, who spent $255 billion a year globally before the pandemic.
Countries from Thailand to Japan had depended on China as their largest source of foreign visitors.
Beijing in December abruptly dropped some of the toughest Covid-19 restrictions on Earth, which had battered the world’s second-biggest economy.
The Chinese return has been welcomed by businesses, despite some wariness about a huge spike in Covid infections in China after Beijing ended its zero-Covid-19 policy.
Chinese visitors accounted for nearly a third of Thailand’s 40 million foreign tourist arrivals in pre-pandemic 2019.
The Thai government is expecting at least five million Chinese tourist arrivals this year, with some 300,000 coming in the first quarter.
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara