Tourism and trade give China-Thai­land ties eco­nomic boost

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Business -

BEI­JING — For those liv­ing in the drier parts of in­land China, spend­ing more than 10 hours on flights for a sub­trop­i­cal sea­side va­ca­tion in Thai­land is be­com­ing a thing of the past.

Stronger co­op­er­a­tion, more di­rect air routes and fast-grow­ing tourism are bring­ing the rolling waves and soft beaches of Phuket, Pat­taya and Koh Sa­mui closer to Chi­nese tourists in non­coastal ar­eas, as air­lines in­crease flights.

One of the lat­est open­ings is a new di­rect Nok Air flight be­tween Pat­taya and Yinchuan, cap­i­tal of North­west China’s Ningxia Hui au­ton­o­mous re­gion, which re­duces travel time be­tween the two cities to less than five hours.

Ear­lier this month, Nok Air opened a di­rect route be­tween Pat­taya and South­west China’s Zunyi. In late Septem­ber, Thai Smile, an­other bud­get air­line, launched a flight be­tween Bangkok and Da­tong in North China’s Shanxi prov­ince. Nok Air has plans for ser­vices to other Chi­nese cities in­clud­ing Bao­tou, Linyi, Yichang and Nan­chang.

“Adding new ser­vices to our grow­ing China net­work will ben­e­fit both the tourism in­dus­try and eco­nomic devel­op­ment as we bring in more tourists to our coun­try, and vice versa,” said Pa­tee Sarasin, CEO of Nok Air.

This is all part of in­creas­ingly closer re­la­tions, which en­hance both eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion and peo­ple-topeo­ple ex­changes.

Dur­ing the re­cent eight­day Na­tional Day hol­i­day, Thai­land re­mained the sec­ond fa­vorite des­ti­na­tion for Chi­nese tourists af­ter Rus­sia, ac­cord­ing to the China Na­tional Tourism Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

In 2016, Thai­land at­tracted 8.75 mil­lion tourists from the Chi­nese main­land and it ex­pects around 9 mil­lion this year.

In a larger pic­ture, trade and in­vest­ment are bloom­ing, while co­op­er­a­tion un­der the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive is un­der way.

In the first seven months of this year, China-Thai­land bi­lat­eral trade climbed 11.6 per­cent year-on-year to $44.7 billion, while Chi­nese in­vest­ment in Thai­land reached $4.5 billion by the end of July.

Im­ports from Thai­land rose by 22.3 per­cent to $23.1 billion in the Jan­uary-July pe­riod, data from China’s com­merce min­istry showed.

E-com­merce played a role in bi­lat­eral trade. Ac­cord­ing to a re­port by DTimes and AliRe­search, the re­search arm of Alibaba Group, in 2016, nearly 280,000 la­tex pil­lows from Thai­land were sold through Alibaba’s cross­bor­der re­tail­ing site Tmall Global.

The sales vol­ume of Thai prod­ucts at Tmall Global rose 152 per­cent year-onyear in 2016. The huge de­mand for la­tex pil­lows from China has driven up nat­u­ral rub­ber prices by three to four times in Thai­land, a strong boost for lo­cal farm­ers’ in­come, the re­port said.

The two coun­tries are also work­ing on a 253-km high­speed rail­way link­ing Bangkok with the north­east­ern prov­ince of Nakhon Ratchasima, the first stan­dard gauge high-speed rail­way in the coun­try.

Dur­ing a visit to Thai­land ear­lier this year, Chi­nese For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi pointed out that Thai­land’s lo­ca­tion makes it an im­por­tant part­ner of China in the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

“China and Thai­land are one fam­ily,” Wang said. XINHUA

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