On a day marked by joy and anticipation, the premiere of the nation took it upon himself to oversee the grand ceremony, welcoming an eager group of Chinese globetrotters arriving upon flight XJ 761, piloted by none other than Thai AirAsia X, journeying directly from Xian to the majestic Suvarnabhumi. This Boeing brought with it not only 341 journeyers ready for oriental exploration, but also the first physical presence of China’s explorers to take advantage of the latest proposal of the Thai government – a visa exemption policy explicitly crafted for those holding passports or travel documents of China and Kazakhstan. This policy promises distanceless journeys from September 25, 2023, right up till the leap day of 2027, February 29.
It was Srettha, the man at the helm, who made this day extraordinary by presenting these adventurous spirits with elephant pants, a token gift embodying the very soul of Thailand. This event was meticulously orchestrated by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), which did not stop at this but extended similar gestures of hospitality for Chinese tourists and adventurous souls from Kazakhstan at Thailand’s four primary airports – the grand Suvarnabhumi, bustling Don Mueang, picturesque Chiang Mai, and tropical Phuket.
Srettha took this opportunity to outline his government’s economic strategy, stressing that propelling the economy back on track through tourism is a priority urgent and dear. In his view, tourism holds the master key to unlocking steady income flow, stimulating economic activity, and catalysing job creation for Thai citizens on a mass scale.
Among the several implications of this policy, a significant one is a proactive attempt at simplifying travel to Thailand with the visa exemption policy, targeting both China and Kazakhstan as markets with substantial potential and excellent growth rates – a key focus area to drive the Thai tourism industry to pre-pandemic levels of vibrancy.
The other three airports welcomed a vibrant mix of tourists from 11 different landing flights. It is necessary to emphasize here that the Chinese travel market plays a crucial role in Thailand’s road to achieving economic rebound, offering prodigious scope for both income growth and increasing visitor footfall.
However, it is also critical to acknowledge the Chinese market’s challenges which could influence travel relationships with Thailand. From the dawn of the new year to the middle of September, Thailand welcomed a little over 19 million explorers from across the globe. A considerable chunk of this number was the 2.34 million Chinese tourists, standing second in line only to Malaysian visitors for that period.
Turning the pages to the Kazakh travel market story, the number of arrivals to Thailand has witnessed a dramatic increase, almost doubling from a modest 56,529 footfalls in 2022 to a significant 109,865 in 2023 – displaying a stunning recovery trajectory in the post-pandemic world.
The TAT predicts the visa-exemption policy to inject anywhere between 4.01 million to 4.4 million Chinese globetrotters into Thailand in 2023, potentially generating a substantial income of 257.5 billion baht.
In the initial five months of implementing the visa-free travel policy, Thailand expects to play host to approximately 2,888,500 Chinese tourists, translating into a substantial income of 140.313 billion baht – a striking 62% recovery from the contrasting year that was 2022.
It is also worth noting that the passports of about 150,000 Kazakhstani tourists are expected to be stamped with a Thai arrival in 2023. During the same five-month period of visa exemption, approximately 129,485 Kazakhstani visitors are projected to land in Thailand, marking a substantial increase of about 49.7% compared to the corresponding period in the preceding year and potentially generating a decent income of approximately 7.93 billion baht.