Jiranun Sakultangphaisal (R), an advisor to the tourism association of Nong Khai, is seen at the hotel she runs in Nong Khai province, Thailand, April 14, 2023. (Xinhua/Lin Hao)
NONG KHAI, Thailand, April 15 (Xinhua) -- Thailand's northeast province of Nong Khai shared the joy of the Songkran Festival with neighboring Laos across the Mekong River since the cross-border passenger service of the China-Laos Railway started on Thursday.
Many were equally thrilled about the launching of cross-border passenger service on the China-Laos Railway on the occasion of the most important festival for Thailand and Laos.
Jiranun Sakultangphaisal, an advisor to the tourism association of Nong Khai, said many in the local tourism sectors had already received inquiries from Thai tourists about the cross-border passenger service of the China-Laos Railway, which started operation on Thursday.
The enthusiasm was no surprise for Jiranun, who runs a hotel in Nong Khai, as she had witnessed how Thai tourists poured in on holidays to cross the border to experience the China-Laos Railway since it was inaugurated in December 2021.
"People from Thailand would come to Nong Khai to ask how to take the China-Laos Railway. Sometimes we have more customers than we could serve," she said.
Many tourists would stay overnight in the Thai northeast province before traveling to the Lao capital of Vientiane, some 20 km away. It boosted Jiranun's hotel business and the local tourism sector seeking recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Monnipa Kovitsirikul, chairwoman of the Chamber of Commerce for Nong Khai, said she hoped that the Chinese tourists who arrive in Laos would travel further to tour Nong Khai and the wider northeast region of Thailand.
"We are getting ready for more Chinese tourists, preparing more transport and Chinese-speaking staff," she said.
Monnipa said many business sectors in Nong Khai have benefited from the operation of the China-Laos Railway, increasing employment and bringing new opportunities for the local business community.
She has seen new investment from within Thailand into Nong Khai and greater efforts by the Thai government to upgrade local infrastructures.
The China-Laos Railway has also provided another transport route for Thailand to access the vast Chinese market.
"In the past, transport of goods between China, Laos and Thailand had to take longer due to the poor road condition. The China-Laos Railway has cut the travel time down to around 10 hours, facilitating the transport of the goods like fruits which require speedy delivery," said Wittawat Pleumram, a local customs official in Nong Khai.
For Jiranun, the tourism association advisor, the China-Laos Railway is also a road of friendship that links Thailand, China and Laos even closer by increasing connectivity and people-to-people exchange.
"More exchanges would facilitate greater understandings, which would, in turn, facilitate more cooperation," she said. ■
This photo taken on April 12, 2023 shows a street by the Mekong River in Nong Khai province, Thailand. (Xinhua/Lin Hao)
Jiranun Sakultangphaisal, an advisor to the tourism association of Nong Khai, speaks during an interview at the hotel she runs in Nong Khai province, Thailand, April 14, 2023. (Xinhua/Lin Hao)