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Thailand plans to waive visas for more countries

Thai PM Srettha welcomes the arrival of Chinese tourists as the visa exemption scheme kicks off

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said on Friday the government plans to offer visa-free travel to citizens of several more countries.

Thailand has recently waived visas for citizens of China and India to boost tourism, a key driver of Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy.

The visa-free programme for China has helped stimulate the economy "quite a lot", he said.

"Not just for China, we'll continue to do this with several more countries," he said without elaborating.

From Jan. 1 to Feb. 11, Thailand received 4.39 million foreign tourist arrivals, up 48% from a year earlier, with China the top source market.

The government expects about 34-35 million foreign visitors this year, up from about 28 million last year. There were a record of nearly 40 million foreign visitors in pre-pandemic 2019.

(Reporting by Orathai Sriring and Satawasin Staporncharnchai; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)