In a dramatic move, the Royal Thai Government, under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Srettha Thavisin, has unveiled a temporary visa exemption scheme targeting Chinese and Kazakhstani tourists. This pivotal decision, effective from 25 September 2023 until 29 February 2024, is anchored in Thailand’s ambitious goal of raising 2.38 trillion Baht in tourism revenue.
This strategic decision is not just about numbers; it’s a powerful message reinforcing Thailand’s commitment to revitalising its tourism sector. H.E. Ms. Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol, from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, emphasized, “This initiative stands as a cornerstone of our Quick-win measures rolled out this September. It’s not just about drawing tourists; it’s about strengthening the Thai economy and leveraging our tourism potential.”
With the relaxation in visa norms, Thailand braces for an influx of 1.9 million to 2.9 million Chinese tourists. This surge could represent an impressive YoY growth of 41-62%, translating into a potential revenue of 92.58-140 billion Baht. Simultaneously, a rise from Kazakhstan could yield an astonishing 49.73% YoY increase, culminating in 7.93 billion Baht.
Ms. Thapanee Kiatphaibool, the dynamic Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), sheds light on the larger picture. “It’s about fostering the ‘ease of travelling’. We are enabling tourists to bypass time-consuming visa processes, making Thailand an irresistible destination. Our projections are bullish, eyeing 4.04-4.4 million Chinese visitors for 2023 alone.”
Until September 2023, Thailand welcomed 2.28 million Chinese tourists, positioning China as a powerful contender, second only to Malaysia in the tourist influx race. Without this exemption, Thailand’s 2023 forecast estimated 3.47 million Chinese visitors, generating 174,358 million Baht, reflecting a resurgence towards pre-pandemic levels.
Perfectly timed ahead of China’s esteemed Golden Week, this initiative stands to gain momentum. As the Chinese prepare for their week-long holiday starting 1st October, airlines are ramping up, announcing new routes that connect the beating hearts of China with Thailand’s mesmerizing locales, like Chengdu to Samui and Shanghai to Phuket.
Kazakhstan hasn’t been left behind in this upswing. With 108,636 tourists from Kazakhstan visiting by September 2023 and a marked preference for destinations like Phuket, Thailand projects 180,000 Kazakhstani tourists by year-end.
Conclusively, this visa exemption move is more than just a scheme; it’s Thailand’s bold step into the future. Aiming for an audacious target of 25-30 million tourists and 2.38 trillion Baht by the end of the year, Thailand is reshaping its narrative, driving its economy through tourism, and positioning itself as the globe’s go-to destination.
Written by: Kanda Limw
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