In a heartwarming move that underscores Thailand’s commitment to revitalizing its tourism industry, the Royal Thai Government, led by Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Srettha Thavisin, has unveiled a remarkable visa exemption scheme for travelers from the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Kazakhstan. Effective from 25 September 2023 to 29 February 2024, this temporary initiative aims to achieve this year’s ambitious tourism revenue target of 2.38 trillion Baht.
Under this visionary scheme, Chinese and Kazakhstani nationals will be granted a visa exemption for a 30-day stay in Thailand, designed to rekindle the nation’s tourism spirit during the five-month period.
H.E. Ms. Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, expressed her optimism, stating, “This stimulus visa scheme is a part of the government’s Quick-win measures announced on 11 September 2023. It seeks to revive Thai tourism by attracting visitors from China, a crucial source market, and Kazakhstan, an emerging market, especially during the upcoming high tourist season. Ultimately, it will help Thailand reach its revenue target for this year.”
During this period of visa exemption, Thailand anticipates welcoming between 1,912,000 to 2,888,500 Chinese tourists, translating to a remarkable year-on-year growth of about 41-62%. This surge in visitors is projected to generate a tourism income ranging from 92.58 to 140 billion Baht. Meanwhile, from Kazakhstan, Thailand foresees an influx of 129,485 Kazakhstani tourists, signifying a staggering 49.73% increase over the same period in the previous year, and a revenue boost of 7.93 billion Baht.
Ms. Thapanee Kiatphaibool, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), emphasized, “The ‘ease of traveling’ policy will enable tourists to save time and costs associated with visa applications and fees, making Thailand an even more attractive destination. With the visa exemption scheme in place, Thailand is well-positioned to welcome around 4.04-4.4 million Chinese tourists in 2023, setting the stage for achieving the forecasted revenue target of 257,500 million Baht.”
As of 10 September 2023, Thailand recorded 2,284,281 Chinese visitors, solidifying China’s position as the second-largest source of tourists after Malaysia. Without the visa exemption scheme, Thailand would expect to see 3,470,430 Chinese visitors in 2023, marking a remarkable 31% recovery compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019, and generating 174,358 million Baht.
This exciting visa exemption scheme comes into effect just ahead of China’s Golden Week, one of the longest holidays, taking place from 1-8 October 2023. Airlines have enthusiastically announced their readiness to operate charter flights, increase flight frequencies, and introduce new routes between various Chinese cities and popular Thai destinations, including Chengdu – Samui, Beijing – Chiang Mai, Guangzhou – Chiang Mai, Shanghai – Chiang Mai, Shanghai – Phuket, Guangzhou – Phuket, and Kunming – Hat Yai.
Ms. Thapanee added, “From Kazakhstan, Thailand expects the visa exemption scheme to attract 180,000 tourists by year-end, further enhancing the bond between our nations.”
Thailand witnessed a record-breaking 108,636 tourists from Kazakhstan from 1 January to 10 September 2023, with Phuket emerging as the favorite destination among Kazakhstani tourists.
This far-sighted visa exemption initiative for Chinese and Kazakhstani tourists is poised to rejuvenate Thai tourism, inching closer to this year’s target of hosting 25-30 million tourists and generating an impressive 2.38 trillion Baht in revenue.
Moreover, this policy is expected to fuel tourism growth well into 2024, firmly establishing Thailand as the preferred destination for travelers worldwide and reinforcing the government’s commitment to leveraging tourism as a key driver of the Thai economy.