Thailand’s new government is looking to ease visa rules for, initially, Chinese and Indian tourists as PM Strettha Thavisin seeks to boost tourism revenue to 3.3 trillion baht in 2024. There are also plans to allow visitors from all countries to remain in the kingdom for longer.
Many tourists, particularly from western countries, are currently granted 30 day, visa exempt, stays in the Kingdom.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chinese were easily the largest group of international visitors to Thailand. However, they currently have to go through an expensive and paperwork-heavy visa application process, which Srettha says has affected arrival numbers this year. The visa for Chinese visitors is only for 15 days.
Meanwhile, tourists from India are also required to pay 2,000 baht for a visa on arrival – again only a 15 day stay. The new PM says he wants to expand the list of countries that qualify for visa-exempt entry and to increase the maximum stay offered to most international tourists.
HERE is a list from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about visa exempt and visa-on-arrival countries.
These were some of the options discussed when Srettha met with 8 airlines and representatives from Airports of Thailand on Monday, August 28. The meeting was called to discuss preparations for the forthcoming peak tourist season. AoT has agreed to implement measures to increase flight capacity by 20% and speed up immigration processing.
Srettha’s administration wants to increase revenue from international tourism to 3.3 trillion baht in 2024. According to data from the Bank of Thailand, tourism directly currently accounts for 12% of gross domestic product and a fifth of jobs in the kingdom.
Meanwhile, the president of the Phuket Tourism Association is calling for the tourist visa application fee to be ditched for Chinese and Indian travellers.
Thaneth Tantipiriyakij says this would be a “quick win” for tourism, adding that while foreign tourist numbers in Phuket last month reached 70% of pre-pandemic levels, the number of Chinese tourists was just 30% of the pre-Covid level.
SOURCE: The Business Times