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World's doors open to Chinese tourists

News, 29 January 2016

HONG KONG: As higher incomes enable more Chinese to go abroad for their holidays, a number of countries have revealed how they are gaining from the trend with some relaxing their visa requirements.

Of all the visitors expected to visit Thailand during the Chinese New Year in early to mid-February, at least half are expected to be Chinese, The Nation reported.

Srisuda Wanapinyosak, the deputy head of international marketing at the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said 1.01 million foreigners are expected to visit the country over the festive season with Chinese numbers up 19% to 476,000 since last year.

"Despite China's [economic] instability, the TAT remains optimistic that the country will contribute the largest arrival source with more than six million tourists expected this full year," she said.

According to TAT, the key factors helping to attract more Chinese are the availability of multiple-visit visas and visas on arrival, more scheduled and charter flights, as well as successful marketing by travel agencies overseas.

Meanwhile, Malaysia has announced that Chinese tourists will not require a visa if they visit for less than 15 days any time between March 1 and December 31 this year.

Malaysia is also reported to be aiming to attract eight million tourists from China each year over the next five years in a bid to garner their Rm 22.1bn spending power.

Elsewhere, South Korea said that, for the first time, it would make 10-year multiple entry visas available to Chinese tourists, although the benefit will be limited to degree-level professionals, China Daily reported.

According to official data, 6.11 million Chinese tourists visited South Korea in 2015 where they spent $2,200, or twice the average of all foreign tourists.

Enthusiasm for attracting the Chinese tourist dollar also extends beyond China's immediate neighbours, as shown by new figures from VisitBritain, the UK's tourism body.

VisitBritain revealed that the number of Chinese tourists who visited the UK in the first nine months of 2015 jumped 37% to 214,000 from the same period in 2014.

Commenting on the news, UK Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, said: "We are making it easier for Chinese tourists to come and enjoy the best of Britain and our recently launched two-year visa scheme will encourage even more to visit."

Data sourced from The Nation, New Straits Times, China Daily, BBC; additional content by Warc staff