Japan’s visa waiver a boon to Thai tourism


HOKKAIDO, June 12 – Thai and Japanese tourism operators today hailed the move to waive visa requirements for Thais, predicting the number of visitors to the island country will leapfrog.

Takeshi Nishikawa, Hokkaido District Transport Bureau director general, was optimistic that more Thai tourists will visit the northern island of Hokkaido after the visa exemption.

There are currently 30 flights daily between Thailand and Japan, he said.

Rung-napa Kampaya, a Thailand-based tour operator, said the visa waiver will not only jump up the number of  tourists to Japan but also facilitate trade and cultural exchanges between the two countries.

Thai Airways International operates direct flights to six major Japanese airports – Narita, Haneda, Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka and Hokkaido, she said, showing confidence that more Thai tourists will visit the country, especially Hokkaido, which is a new destination.

Sansern Ngaorangsi, Tourism Authority of Thailand deputy governor for Asia and Pacific, said Japan launched a “World Visit Campaign” in 2010 aiming to encourage 20 million Japanese to travel overseas and 10 million tourists to visit Japan, but it did not reach the target.

Anek Srichivachart, Thai-Japanese Tourism Promotion Association president, said the number of 300,000 Thai tourists who visited Japan last year will definitely surge to 400,000-500,000 visitors by the end of this year.