PM Srettha Eyes Tourists From India To Boost Tourism Recovery

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is targeting tourists from India to boost the tourism sector, shortly after announcing visa-free waivers for visitors from China and Kazakhstan which is set to start next week.

Mr. Srettha intends to visit India within the year to confer with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, about increasing the number of flights between the two nations, which includes expanding services provided by the national airline, Thai Airways International.

“There aren’t that many incoming flights from India yet due to internal politics”, Mr. Srettha remarked at a press event on Monday, alluding to regulations aimed at ensuring balanced capacity for airlines from both nations.

Air India, the former national airline, is in the process of updating its fleet and it remains uncertain whether it will have adequate aircrafts available for new routes to Thailand, should Thai Air receive permission to expand services to India.

Other initiatives to encourage Indian tourists might be contemplated, including granting tax exemptions on jewelry brought in for Indian wedding events in Thailand, a favored venue for such celebrations, he noted.

Given that Indian travelers can presently secure Thai visas with relative ease, eliminating this necessity might not be essential, he added.

A week after the government sanctioned provisional visa waivers for tourists from China and Kazakhstan in preparation for the peak tourist season, Mr. Srettha voiced his remarks. Visitors from these two nations can enter Thailand visa-free from September 25 to February 29 of the forthcoming year, with a stay limit of up to 30 days per visit.

Mr. Srettha commented seven days after the cabinet’s authorization of short-term visa waivers for visitors from China and Kazakhstan, just before the onset of the peak tourism season.

Travelers from these nations have the privilege to enter Thailand without a visa from September 25 to February 29 of the upcoming year, with a permitted stay duration of up to 30 days per visit.

The visa relaxation initiative is projected to generate 35 billion baht in revenue from Chinese tourists, Mr. Srettha highlighted during the event.

From November 1, Chiang Mai Airport will extend its operations to 24 hours to cater to the expected influx of Chinese tourists, facilitated by the new visa-free policy, stated government spokesperson Chai Wacharonke post Monday’s cabinet discussion.

“The airport traditionally operates flight time for 18 hours per day, but there has been demand from Chinese, Japanese and Korean tourists for late night flight operations so they can return to work in the morning upon landing in their countries,” Mr. Chai explained.

The government is intensifying efforts to revitalize the tourism sector, a critical pillar of Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy. It aspires to return tourism revenues to pre-pandemic figures, targeting 3.1 trillion baht by 2024.

So far, Thailand has greeted 18.5 million international tourists this year, with projections estimating up to 28 million by the end of the year.

As of September 11, the revenue earned from overseas visitors stood at 775 billion baht, as reported by the Ministry of Tourism. In 2019, the country recorded a historic high of 40 million tourist arrivals.