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Visa Fee Mayhem: You Won’t Believe Thailand’s Shocking Revival Strategy for Tourism Boom – China and India in Crosshairs!

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The world-renowned tourism industry of Thailand is lobbying for the reinstatement of a previously waived visa fee, targeting high-population countries such as India and China. This action is triggered by the need for increased visitor inflow amidst a lackluster recovery from certain key markets. Advocates believe the visa fee waiver is quintessential to boost footfall in the current calendar year.

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, the esteemed President of the Thai Hotels Association, accentuated the significance of aiming at populous nations like India and China for increased tourism. This is primarily because these countries’ tourists frequent key Thai locations such as Bangkok, Pattaya, and Phuket. Despite the boost current high-spending tourists provide to Thailand’s economy, Nunbhakdi acknowledged the critical importance of budget travelers and large tour groups to numerous hotel business models across the country.

She was quoted as stating, “While high-spending tourists have become more prominent in Thailand recently, we must not forget the immense contribution budget travelers and large tour groups make to our hotel industry.”

As India recently surpassed China as the world’s most densely populated nation, the tourism potential it holds for Thailand is immense. The swiftly growing workforce stands as a testament to the capacity for enticing India’s wealth of potential tourists. These travelers could certainly be inspired to explore beyond just the major cities, as stated in a recent report by the Bangkok Post.

According to Nunbhakdi, the potential benefits to be accrued from various sectors are far-reaching. Indian travelers visit Thailand for a multitude of reasons, ranging from thrill-seekers looking for adventurous experiences, to large wedding parties, to individuals seeking health and wellness services. Their diverse demands appeal to an array of businesses in the hotel industry.

Nunbhakdi further suggested the government consider revising the current duration policies of tourist visas and visa-on-arrival allowances. Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, the esteemed president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, supports this view, arguing that a waiver on visa fees would significantly invigorate the Chinese tourism market.

Despite the notable economic slump in China and the complexity of their visa application process, Cheewarattanaporn believes there’s undisputed potential for market expansion. To light the spark for growth, he proposed the government implement a visa fee waiver for at least three months, employing a strategy used previously in 2014 and 2018.

Chinese tourists face the major hurdle of slow visa approval processes, frequently surpassing ten days. This unwanted delay can understandably deter large tour groups from visiting. More so, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) recognizes these issues, and aids the consular services with pre-screening procedures to decrease waiting periods.

However, Siriges-a-nong Trirattanasongpol, the Director of the New Delhi TAT office, cautions that recent tax increments on outbound packages from India could deter potential tourists. The tax hike, from 5% up to an imposing 20% starting in October, could pose significant obstacles to growth. Additionally, the limited air service agreement between Thailand and India, which only allows for a maximum of 39,000 seats per week to six Indian cities, could also stunt expansion. A revised target of 1.5 to 1.6 million Indian tourists is in place this year, down from 2 million.

Fast forward to July 16 of this year, and Thailand has graciously welcomed over 14 million foreign tourists, with 1.6 million visitors from China and roughly 826,000 Indian tourists gracing its shores. The visa fee waiver plan, if successfully reinstated, could very well see those numbers soar in the near future.

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