Tourism leaders in Thailand call for long-term visa-free deal for India

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The temporary visa exemption for Indian travelers has already shown positive effects, with plans to extend the policy for two additional years after its expiration on May 10.

Tourism leaders in Thailand are calling for discussions on establishing a long-term visa-free travel arrangement with India, anticipating significant benefits as India is expected to become the world’s third-largest economy by 2027. The temporary visa exemption for Indian travelers has already shown positive effects, with plans to extend the policy for two additional years after its expiration on May 10. The call seeks to sustain growth in Indian tourist arrivals, which ranked fifth highest, totaling 258,269 visitors by February 18.



The shift in global economic rankings, with India expected to surpass Germany, presents an opportunity for Thailand to attract more affluent Indian tourists. Advocates for a permanent visa-free policy argue it would boost tourism and trade, encouraging airlines to increase flight offerings. The Indian market’s potential is underscored by its large young workforce and middle-income, well-educated demographic, known for spending generously on travel, including hotels and shopping.

Indian tourists, often traveling with family, are seen as lucrative for the hospitality sector, with average expenditures ranging between 60,000-100,000 baht per seven-day visit. India also represents a promising market for business meetings, incentive trips, and lavish wedding ceremonies, potentially bringing in 50-100 million baht per event.



Efforts to resume flights between Thailand and India are expanding, although currently limited to six major Indian cities. There’s a push for flights from India’s second-tier cities with high demand and spending power, such as Amritsar and Pune. The proposal also includes enhancing charter flights to U-tapao and Chiang Mai airports, improving duty-free shopping, and addressing the shortage of Indian restaurants in major Thai cities.

In Phuket, Indian tourists are among the top five sources of arrivals, with 25,524 visitors in January alone, surpassing 2019 figures by 15%. This influx has benefited hotels of all sizes, allowing for increased room rates during peak season and an expected occupancy rate of 90% in February, driven by the Indian market and long-haul visitors. (NNT)


The call seeks to sustain growth in Indian tourist arrivals, which ranked fifth highest, totaling 258,269 visitors by February 18.