by Nuttanan Srithorn, Shen Min
BANGKOK, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- The forthcoming Chinese New Year Festival is projected to generate around 550 million baht (14.3 million U.S. dollars) for Thailand, and bring approximately 500,000 tourists per day, 20 percent of them foreigners, to all kinds of festives, Thai tourism authorities said Wednesday.
The Chinese Lunar New Year falls on Jan. 26 this year, and Thailand has scheduled Jan. 23 - Feb. 4 for a series of celebrations to target tourists, both local and foreign, in Thailand's major places of tourist attractions, include Bangkok's China Town, Ayudhya, Nakornsawan, Suphanburi, Pattaya, Nakornratchsima, Chiang Mai, Songkla, and Phuket Island, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) announced at a press conference in Bangkok Wednesday.
Thailand hopes that the tourism industry which largely contributes to the country's economic growth will recover this year. The government's economic council also plans to propose the cabinet meeting on Jan. 20 a visa fee wave for foreign tourists, tourism officials said.
Among foreign tourists, Chinese are the main target. Chumpol Silpa-archa, Minister of Tourism and Sports noted that the Chinese authorities has lifted the warning for Chinese citizens against traveling to Thailand, which was issued by the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok in mid-December after anti-government demonstrators shut down two Bangkok airports in the climax of their street protests to topple the two previous governments.
The protests have prompted many foreign countries to advise citizens against traveling to Thailand.
"No problem," Chen Jiang, Cultural Counselor with the Embassy of China in Bangkok, told Xinhua when asked about the Chinese tourists' confidence in Thailand's situation, noting that things have cooled down after Thailand's new government was installed, and now that the Chinese government has already canceled the tourist warning.
Chen Jiang, invited to the press conference at the TAT headquarters, said that Chinese pay more attention to the social stability rather than political situation. "If the society is peaceful, they will come," according to Chen Jiang.
It certainly will take some time for the Chinese to fully resume the confidence about the safety of traveling to Thailand as before," but it won't be too long," said Chen.
Chinese government will send around 200 Chinese performers from seven cities across China to put on cultural shows during the Chinese Lunar New Year festival in Thailand, said Chen.
Meanwhile, in a bid to ensure the confidence among Chinese, Virachai Virameteekul, Minister of the Prime Minister's Office and Weerasak Kwosurat, chairman of the TAT Board, will fly to Beijing on Friday and meet with Shao Qiwei, chairman of China's National Tourism Administration.
The Thai delegation will inform the Chinese authorities of Thailand's security, facilities, and the planned visa fee wave for tourists, Weerasak told Xinhua.
A total of 1.05 million visitors from China is targeted for 2009, while in 2008 it is estimated that only 600,000 Chinese traveled to Thailand, missing the target of 1.2 million, local media reported.