Thailand’s Tourism Minister says the sector is targeting new markets in central Asian countries such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says there has been increasing interest in Thailand in both these markets, since the visa on arrival stay was extended from 15 days to 30.
In the wake of Thailand’s reopening, there’s been a new wave of fresh demographics and feeder markets for tourism into the country.
Nation Thailand reports that airlines are also increasing the number of direct flights from Kazakhstan, with Air Astana adding to its direct service from Almaty to both Bangkok and Phuket, which currently has 3 flights a week. In addition, Sunday Airlines is increasing its flights from Kazakh cities including Almaty, Astana, Kostanay, Shymkent and Uralsk to Phuket and U-Tapao airport, near Pattaya.
“Kazakh airlines and tour companies said last month they would like to see Thailand scrap all visa requirements and fees for Kazakhstan tourists this year so they can promote Thailand during the high season.”
Prior to the pandemic, Thailand welcomed around 56,000 tourists a year from Kazakhstan. During the first 9 months of this year, around 22,000 Kazakh visitors entered the kingdom. Phiphat says he hopes this figure will rise to 55,000 by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, in 2019, Thailand welcomed 19,000 tourists from Uzbekistan, whereas in the first 8 months of this year, 2,496 arrived. Tourism bosses hope this will rise to a total of 8,500 for the year.
According to Phiphat, one obstacle for visitors from Uzbekistan is a lack of direct flights from their country to Thailand. However, it’s understood the national carrier, Uzbekistan Airways, is preparing to resume international operations, having been grounded during the Covid-19 pandemic.
SOURCE: Nation Thailand