The prime minister was seen recently leading a welcoming ceremony for an influx of Chinese tourists brought in by Thai AirAsia X’s flight XJ 761. The flight, originating from Xian, landed on the hallowed tarmac of Suvarnabhumi, filled to the brim with 341 eager travellers. They hold the distinction of being the first Chinese tourists to take advantage of Thailand’s new visa exemption policy, extended to travellers bearing passports from China and Kazakhstan. Commenced on the rather memorable date of September 25, 2023, the policy will stay in place until February 29, 2027.
In a warm gesture of Thailand’s fine hospitality, Prime Minister Srettha gifted the visitors with elegantly crafted elephant pants. The cherished gifts served as a fitting early introduction to Thailand’s rich culture.
Simultaneously, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) organised vibrant welcoming ceremonies for the Chinese and Kazakh tourists across key airports like Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, and Phuket.
Prime Minister Srettha expressed his government’s steadfast commitment to reignite the economy through the vehicle of tourism. He elaborated on the government’s strategy: tourism, with its capacity to significantly generate income, holds the keys to massive job creation and thus serves as a crucial initiation towards economic resurrection. The visa exemption policy is pinpointed as one such proactive measure, targeted towards smoothing the path for travel to Thailand; with China and Kazakhstan being high-growth markets, their prioritisation forms a critical element of Thailand’s recovery blueprint for the tourism industry. Meanwhile, three other airports also rolled out the red carpet for tourists disembarking from an impressive 11 flights.
Thailand’s economic revival largely pin-hinges on the Chinese tourism market, given its strong potential for both monetary gain and numeric growth. Nonetheless, the dashboard gauges reflecting the journey of the Chinese market towards Thailand are not unmarred by challenges.
The period from January 1 to September 17, 2023, saw Thailand playing host to a little over 19 million international tourists. Among these, the Chinese contingent constituted the second largest group, with a tally of 2.34 million, being outranked only by tourists from Malaysia in the said timeframe.
Turning the telescope towards the Kazakh tourist market reveals an impressive sight of doubling arrivals – numbers climbed from around 56,529 in 2022 to a whopping 109,865 in the year 2023.
The TAT foresees the visa-exemption policy serving as a growth catalyst to ratchet up Chinese tourist numbers to somewhere between 4.01 million and 4.4 million in 2023, which is anticipated to fill the Thai coffers with 257.5 billion baht.
The first five months following the visa-exemption policy implementation are projected to see around 2,888,500 Chinese tourists setting foot in Thailand, infusing an approximate revenue of 140.313 billion baht. These figures indicate a resounding recovery rate of 62% when held up against the preceding year of 2022.
Further projections paint a promising picture of roughly 150,000 Kazakhstani tourists travelling to Thailand in 2023. During the initial five-month period post the visa exemption policy, it is estimated that approximately 129,485 Kazakhstani tourists will visit Thailand. This represents a substantial increase of 49.7% compared to the same period in the previous year, translating into revenue of an approximated 7.93 billion baht.