Thailand is considering some exciting changes to welcome travellers from China and India, making visiting this stunning country easier and more appealing. The Thai Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin, aims to boost tourism revenue to nearly USD 100 billion next year. Chinese travellers, who were the largest group of visitors before the pandemic, have faced a challenging and costly visa application process. This has had an impact on tourism numbers this year. Similarly, visitors from India have had to pay 2,000 baht (INR 4,681) for a 15-day visa on arrival.
Thavisin is looking to expand the list of visa-exempt countries and extend the length of stays for most international visitors. This could mean longer, more enjoyable trips to Thailand for many travellers, with potential stays of 15 or 30 days.
In discussions with executives from Airports of Thailand Pcl and various airlines, the government is focusing on attracting more visitors in the fourth quarter, Thailand's peak tourism season. They are working on increasing flight capacity by 20 per cent and streamlining immigration procedures to enhance the visitor experience.
The government aims to increase foreign tourist revenue to 3.3 trillion baht next year, recognizing that the travel industry provides a crucial economic stimulus. Tourism contributes significantly to Thailand's economy, accounting for approximately 12 per cent of GDP and nearly one-fifth of jobs, according to Bank of Thailand data.
Phuket Tourism Association's President, Thaneth Tantipiriyakij, suggested that eliminating visa application fees would be more effective than offering visa exemptions to visitors from China and India. He believes visa fee exemptions could be a quick win for the tourism industry. He also recommends adding flights to provinces like Phuket and Krabi and extending visas for tourists from Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia, who tend to spend more than visitors from other countries.
Although these changes show promise, the broader question is how external factors, such as China's economic outlook and consumer sentiment, will affect travel demand. While Thailand is actively working to attract tourists, external factors may still influence the effectiveness of these measures.