Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Srettha Thavisin presided over the welcoming ceremony at Suvarnabhumi Airport, one of four key airports holding momentous celebrations to welcome the first groups of tourist arrivals from the People’s Republic of China and Republic of Kazakhstan under the temporary tourist visa exemption scheme, which is effective from today until 29 February 2024.
Present along with the Prime Minister were H.E. Mr. Han Zhiqiang, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to the Kingdom of Thailand, H.E. Ms. Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol, Minister of Tourism and Sports, Ms. Thapanee Kiatphaibool, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), as well as other senior officials and key figures from the public and private sectors.
PM Srettha said “The government has identified tourism as a key driver for revenue generation and job creation to relieve the economy. This reflects the quick-win measures to boost tourism income through the ‘ease of travelling’ policy by revising and facilitating the visa application procedure and exempting the visa fee for tourists from the targeted countries. The visa exemption scheme is initiated for travellers from China and Kazakhstan, as both are considered markets with significant growth potential to revive Thai tourism.
Chinese and Kazakhstani travellers arriving in Thailand throughout the five-month period will be granted a temporary visa exemption for a 30-day stay for the purpose of tourism in Thailand.
China is one of Thailand’s important markets in terms of both revenue and tourist numbers. From 1 January to 17 September 2023, Thailand welcomed 2,341,080 Chinese visitors – about 37% of the record year in 2019, making China the second largest market after Malaysia. Meanwhile, the number of Kazakhstani tourists almost doubled to 109,865 from 56,529 in 2019, making Kazakhstan a high growth potential market.
The government is optimistic that the visa exemption scheme will be an important mechanism for driving the Thai economy and reviving Thai tourism. Saving both time and the visa fee, the scheme is expected to stimulate a quicker decision among Chinese families, tour groups, and incentive travellers to choose Thailand as their preferred destination during the upcoming Golden Week through to the New Year and the Chinese New Year.
The government expects the quick-win tourism measures will help propel Thailand towards the 2023 targets of 25-30 million international tourists and about 80% of the revenue achieved in 2019 or at 1.5 trillion Baht. The overall tourism revenue target for 2023 is 2.38 trillion Baht from both domestic and international tourists. From 1 January to 17 September 2023, Thailand recorded 19,000,988 foreign visitors.
TAT has forecasted that the visa exemption scheme will help reach 4.01-4.4 million Chinese tourists and achieve the revenue target of 257.5 billion Baht in 2023. Specifically, during the five-month stimulus visa period, Thailand is expected to welcome 2,888,500 Chinese tourists, who will generate 140.3 billion Baht in revenue, or representing about 62% of the record year in 2019. The number of Kazakhstani tourists is anticipated at 150,000 throughout 2023, and 129,485 in the five months or a 49.7% increase over the same previous period, thus generating an income of 7.93 billion Baht.
TAT in cooperation with the public and private sectors is organising the special airport welcome ceremonies at Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, and Phuket International Airports. Arriving passengers on the designated flights at all four airports will be presented with cultural shows unique to each location, floral garlands, and souvenirs to mark the momentous events, thus underlining Thailand’s long-standing position as the preferred destination for travellers from around the world.
The ceremony at Suvarnabhumi Airport is welcoming 341 arriving passengers on Thai AirAsia X Flight XJ761 from Shanghai, China. (TAT)