The Thai Cabinet has agreed to extend visa-free travel to Thailand by Russian visitors from 30 days to 90 days. The latest move starts on November 1 until April 24, or later if approved. Making the announcement, Thai tourism minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol said almost one million Russian tourists had visited the country in the year to August 2023 and were the third biggest spenders in terms of gross income.
Currently, Russian tourists are able to enter Thailand visa-free for 30 days, but must then leave the country or take a visa run to the Cambodian border to obtain a further month. The latest move will enable the longer-stayers amongst the Russian visitors to open bank accounts, obtain driving licences and organize property deals if they wish.
The Thai prime minister is scheduled to meet Russian president Putin this week on his visit to Beijing where he will also meet president Xi. Last month, Chinese tourists were given visa-free travel to Thailand for 30 days, replacing the old restrictions of visa-on-arrival and 15 days. Rumours that the Thai government would offer 30 days visa-free travel to Indian nationals and enable Europeans and Americans to stay for three months visa-exempt without needing to leave the country have proved to be untrue, or certainly premature.
Thai authorities are rushing to extend visa-free travel to Russians to boost the treasury coffers at an uncertain time. There is some evidence that Chinese arrivals are weakening in the wake of the Bangkok murders by a schoolboy and a slowdown in the Chinese economy, whilst the violent military situation in Ukraine and Israel could threaten the stability of international travel if fuel prices rocket.