Chinese tourists are welcomed upon arriving in Chiang Mai province on Dec. 2, 2018.

BANGKOK — The government on Friday declined to take up a request by the Ministry of Public Health to stop issuing visas on arrivals to Chinese visitors in order to combat the new coronavirus strain.

The proposal went untouched in today’s meeting of the Cabinet’s economy team, despite health minister Anutin Charnvirakul’s pledge the previous day to push for the measure. Anutin previously said suspending the visas upon arrivals would curb the potential spread of the coronavirus.

Anutin himself was not present at the meeting today, though sources inside the government said he already proposed for a suspension of the visas once, during the weekly full-team Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.


During that meeting, the Cabinet shot down his proposal on the grounds that it might affect Thai-Chinese relations, sources said.


Approximately 10.9 million tourists from mainland China visited Thailand throughout 2019, exceeding travelers from other countries. They account for at least 426 billion baht in tourism revenues, according to official data.

But calls to restrict travels from the People’s Republic grow as more cases of coronavirus infection were discovered among Chinese visitors here. As of Friday, 19 cases were found so far, all of them but two were Chinese nationals.