BEIJING (Agencies): The mutual visa-exemption agreement between China and Thailand officially took effect on Friday, with bookings for two-way travel surging on the same day as more Thai visitors are expected to visit China.

Industry insiders said the move will further smooth bilateral economic and personnel exchanges in a wide range of fields, while showcasing China’s continuous efforts to promote high-quality opening-up.

The number of orders for Thai travelers coming to China on Friday on Chinese travel platform increased by three times year-on-year, recording a more than 160 percent surge compared with 2019, the company said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Friday.

The popularity of searches for China-related keywords on’s Thailand website grew by more than three times year-on-year and more than doubled in a month, the company said. Chinese cities including Shanghai, Guangzhou, Kunming, Beijing along with other cities are the top destinations for Thai visitors.

China and Thailand remained each other’s top travel destinations, and the visa-exemption agreement will be beneficial to further consolidate the already established cooperation in various fields, Jiang Yiyi, deputy head of the School of Leisure Sports and Tourism at Beijing Sport University, said on Friday.

China has been supporting the development of outbound tourism, which will allow the global tourism sector to share the dividends of its steady economic recovery, Jiang told the Global Times. She added that the visa-exemption scheme between China and Thailand is just one example of the country’s ramped-up efforts to bolster high-quality opening-up.

The estimated number of Thais traveling to China will double in 2024 compared to 2019 before the COVID-19 epidemic, with around 600,000 to 700,000 Thais traveling to the country, and the number will eventually top 1 million people, Bangkok-based news site Khaosod English reported on February.

Visa exemptions will meanwhile promote people-to-people exchanges and business communication, making travel more convenient for people engaging in cross-border cooperation and investment from both sides.

China and Thailand have close economic and trade relations, with China being Thailand’s largest trading partner and source of foreign investment, while Thailand is China’s third largest trading partner among ASEAN members, with bilateral trade reaching $126.28 billion in 2023.

In addition, China and Thailand are deepening cooperation under the framework of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, and more than 90 percent of goods traded in the region will eventually be subject to zero tariffs.

Jiang highlighted that cooperation in industries such as education and talent training will be further strengthened, as China also remains a top destination for Thai people seeking overseas education.

The number of Chinese travelers to Thailand on Friday grew more than three times, continuing the already solidified momentum. More than 1 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand in the first two months of 2024, making China the largest source of outbound travelers to the Southeast Asian country, according to

The actual number of round-trip flights between China and Thailand in February reached 7,746, which has recovered to 64 percent of the same period in 2019, according to flight information provider VariFlight on Friday.

The visa exemption will help further boost the willingness of Chinese tourists to travel to Thailand, Spring Tour told the Global Times on Friday.

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