In a strategic move set to invigorate the nation’s economy, Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, has launched the exciting visa-free policy which started earlier this week. The eagerly awaited policy, targeting Chinese and Kazakh visitors, is aimed at making Thailand a more desirable destination for international tourists, especially those originating from China and Kazakhstan.
This exceptional initiative, the Quick Win proactive measure, sees the holder of Chinese and Kazakh passports benefiting from visa exemptions. With this strategic policy in place, an estimated five million Chinese tourists are speculated to make Thailand their choice destination by the end of the year, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). This vehicular policy is scheduled to run until February 29 of the succeeding year as reported by Thailand’s Interior Ministry on September 18.
On Monday, the day the policy kicked off, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin made an exceptional appearance at Suvarnabhumi airport to welcome the first batch of beneficiaries comprising 341 Chinese tourists arriving on a Thai AirAsia flight. This exciting moment was accompanied by traditional dance performers and puppeteers who entertained the unsuspecting arrivals. Meanwhile, according to Prime Minister Srettha, the newly implemented visa-free policy has resulted in an impressive ten-fold increase in tour bookings.
The TAT governor, Thapanee Kiatphaibool, who was also actively involved in welcoming Chinese tourists, expressed her optimism. According to her, she anticipates the visa exemption strategy will play a crucial role in ensuring an expected five million Chinese tourists make Thailand their choice destination this year. She further estimates that the tourists are likely to spend around 300 billion baht during their stay.
Notwithstanding, TAT also forecasts a considerable increase in the number of tourists from Kazakhstan. They anticipate around 150,000 visitors this year and approximately 129,485 visitors during the five-month visa-free scheme, which is almost a 50% increase from the same period last year, says Thapanee. This significant number of Kazakh visitors is expected to yield about 7.93 billion baht in tourism-related national revenue.
Furthermore, in addition to Suvarnabhumi airport, lavish welcome ceremonies were also staged at Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, and Phuket international airports. Prime minister Srettha, during his remarks, stated that an economic rebound through tourism is an urgent government priority. The PM added, “Besides attracting tourists to major cities like Bangkok, Pattaya, and Phuket, we should also encourage them to visit secondary cities in order to extend their stay in Thailand and increase their spending.”
Considering that from January 1 to September 17, out of 19 million tourist arrivals, 2.34 million were Chinese, and it stands as Thailand’s second-biggest tourism market following Malaysia. It is reassuring to note that the current level of tourism is almost 37% of the pre-COVID-19 pandemic level in 2019, and with these new policies, the future looks even brighter.