Strolling along the historic walls of the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo, tourists are immersed in the grandeur of Bangkok’s finest attractions. These places are but a glimpse of the rich tapestry of culture that attracts a multitude of tourists to the capital. One particular group of tourists expected to significantly increase in number, are Chinese nationals. This is because of the recent announcement by the Airports of Thailand (AOT) of an anticipated 120,000 Chinese visitors expected to land at both Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports during the first week when visa exemptions for Chinese and Kazakh nationals come into effect.
This notable change, made public in the Royal Gazette on September 19, inaugurates a visa-free scheme that permits a 30-day stay for citizens of China and Kazakhstan. This scheme, moored to run until February 29 next year, is believed to offer a significant surge in the volume of incoming tourists, especially during the first week from September 25 to October 1, as mentioned by AOT president Kerati Kijmanawat.
The AOT has calculated a rise in arrivals from China to Suvarnabhumi airport during the visa-free policy’s initial week, averaging at 96 flights per day, to a total of 674 flights. In addition, a predicted 130,593 Chinese visitors are set to populate inbound and outbound flights, with nearly equal numbers arriving and departing. According to the latest projections, this scheme will also contribute to the increase of Kazakh passengers to 1,338 people from just 853 passengers during the week preceding the visa exemption.
From September 25 to October 1, Don Mueang airport is set for a significant upswing in traffic as well, with 414 flights from China forecasted, averaging around 60 flights per day. This is a substantial rise from the 326 flights reported in the week before the visa-free policy. AOT president Mr Kerati disclosed that the expected number of Chinese passengers will also see an upward trend, rising to 57,549 from 43,783 in the previous week.
In addition, from January 1 to September 17, a total of 10,333 flights have traveled from China to Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang. These flights have carried an impressive tally of 1.6 million passengers journeying between the two countries. This traffic has been facilitated by 22 Chinese airlines and 3 Thai airlines, operating between two airports in Bangkok and a whopping 23 airports in China since March 26.
Government spokesman, Chai Wacharonke, further asserts that this visa-free policy endorsed by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, is slated to deliver immense benefits in terms of promoting tourism. It is reckoned that this government initiative will significantly amplify Chinese and Kazakh tourist numbers during its five-month run, thereby assisting Thailand in reaching its goal of 5 million Chinese visitors for this year.
As tourists flock to Thailand’s capital, whether they choose to thread along the walls of the Grand Palace or tread through the city’s bustling streets, their footprints underscore the vitality of these historic airports, which remain central to Thailand’s vibrant tourism scene.