Over 200 cultural industry and trade leaders from China, Hong Kong, and Macau recently travelled to Thailand to commemorate the 49th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two nations. Led by Pansy Ho, Vice Chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry & Commerce, the delegation’s visit was part of the “Nihao! China” campaign, aimed at promoting Chinese cities and fostering cooperation and innovation in Sino-Thai industries while strengthening bilateral ties.

The visit began with the China-Thailand Cultural Tourism Industry Summit in Bangkok on 1 July, where industry leaders met with Thai government and tourism officials to discuss enhancing cooperation in cultural industries and boosting economic growth. Key discussions focused on trends, investment opportunities, and strategies to advance the interconnected development of the Sino-Thai cultural tourism sector.

Nihao! The China-Thailand Cultural Tourism Industry Summit convened industry leaders from both nations in Bangkok’s conference rooms.

Prominent figures attending the summit include Pansy Ho, Vice Chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry & Commerce, Chairman of the Tourism Economic Research Center, and Vice Chairman and Chief Secretary of the Tourism Economic Summit; Jakkaphon Tangsutthitham, Thailand’s Deputy Minister of Tourism and Sports; Ploy Tanikul, Assistant Minister of Culture of Thailand; Han Zhiqiang, Minister Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Thailand; Edison Chen, Vice Chairman of Trip.com Group; Chattan Kunjara na Ayudhya, Deputy Director General of Thailand’s Tourism Authority; Ji Xiaodong, Chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce; Peter Semone, President of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA); William Ellwood Heinecke, Chairman of Minor International Public Company Limited; along with numerous other distinguished guests.

The Summit also included business matchmaking sessions, facilitating face-to-face meetings among cultural tourism leaders from both nations to strengthen cooperation and create innovative tourism products. It emphasised efforts to develop cultural tourism brands in both countries and explore new avenues for growth.

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During their stay, the delegation conducted on-site inspections, including a visit to ICONSIAM in central Bangkok, showcasing Thailand’s commercial sector and fostering mutual learning in consumer retail. They also held strategic discussions at the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) headquarters on regional tourism cooperation and cultural exchange, and explored the industrial landscape at Amata Industrial Park.

The visit concluded with a Sichuan-style hot pot dinner, where delegates and Thai counterparts reflected on their insights and achievements, cementing bonds forged during their successful trip.

Since establishing bilateral relations in 1975, China and Thailand have enjoyed steady and cooperative growth, achieving numerous successes across various fields. In 2023, President Xi Jinping invited Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin to attend the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in China. During the forum, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a stable, prosperous, and sustainable Thailand-China partnership. They agreed to expand cooperation in commercial sectors, including the cultural tourism industry, and reiterated the principle that “Thailand and China are as close as one family.”

In March 2023, a visa exemption agreement between China and Thailand came into effect, initiating a “visa-free era” and leading to a significant increase in tourism between the two countries. The Thai Ministry of Sports and Tourism estimates that over 8 million Chinese tourists will visit Thailand in 2024, contributing more than 320 billion Thai Baht in consumer spending. On the Chinese side, there has been a 160% increase in Thai tourists visiting China since 2019, according to Trip.com. These exchanges create development opportunities across various sectors in both countries and strengthen bilateral relations.

Next year, China and Thailand will celebrate the Golden Anniversary of their diplomatic relations.