In a strategic move intended to stimulate the tourism industry amid the peak travel season, Thailand has announced an extension in the visa-free stay duration for Russian travelers. As revealed by Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol, the Tourism Minister, Russian tourists will have the opportunity to freely explore the wonders of Thailand for a stretched duration of 90 days, a significant increase from the prior limit of 30 days.
This new policy will be effective from November and stretch until the end of April 2024, allowing for an extended period of elevated tourist influx. The beautiful capital city, Bangkok, is eager to welcome these extended-term vacationers with its exquisite landscape, rich culture, and boundless hospitality.
According to the official records from the Tourism and Sports Ministry, Russia has been identified as the fifth most popular origin of inbound tourists trailing Malaysia, China, South Korea, and India. In the timeframe up till August, Thailand hosted an impressive number of around 923,113 Russian tourists.
Historical data from the pre-pandemic era of 2019 shows that around 1.5 million Russian travelers graced Thailand with their presence, contributing approximately $3.3 billion to the economy. Thus, making them the third most significant group of spenders in the Thai tourism market.
With the global restrictions easing off and the recent visa policy update, the Thai government is optimistic of a surge in foreign tourist arrivals. The government has devised this visa policy with the aim to accelerate economic growth and amplify the overall revenue generated via tourism.
However, a recent unfortunate shooting incident in a Bangkok shopping mall may pose as a slight setback damaging the allure of Thailand among Chinese visitors, who fortunately require no prior visa application processes. As stated by government spokesman Chai Wacharonke, a small slump has been noticed in the confirmed hotel and flight bookings by Chinese tourists, citing the figures at 590,000, as compared to the previous count of 650,000 prior to the incident.
Despite the setback, the tourism authorities remain fairly confident. As per the current forecasts, Thailand is looking forward to welcoming up to 30 million tourists this year alone, which signifies a remarkable upsurge from the total tourist count in 2022.
This bold and flexible decision by the Thai government demonstrates their relentless efforts and commitment to re-energise the tourism industry, making the country an even more attractive destination for international tourists, and further boosting the national economy.