Effective until 29 February 2024, the five-month stimulus visa scheme is aimed to help reach this year’s tourism revenue target of 2.38 trillion Baht. The Royal Thai Government led by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has announced the temporary tourist visa exemption scheme to passport holders of the People’s Republic of China and Republic of Kazakhstan effective from 25 September 2023 to 29 February 2024, to achieve this year’s tourism revenue target of 2.38 trillion Baht.
Chinese and Kazakhstani nationals will be granted a temporary visa exemption for a 30-day stay on tourism purpose in Thailand during the five-month visa exemption period.
Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, said “This stimulus visa scheme forms part of the government’s Quick-win measures announced on 11 September 2023 to achieve the long-term goal and boost the Thai economy through travel and tourism. It will help stimulate inbound travel from China which is one of Thailand’s key source tourist markets and Kazakhstan which is considered an emerging market, especially during this coming high tourist season. Ultimately, it will help revive Thai tourism and reach the revenue target set for this year.”
During the five-month visa exemption period, Thailand is expected to welcome 1,912,000 to 2,888,500 Chinese tourists – a year-on-year growth of about 41-62% – and generate a tourism income of around 92.58-140 billion Baht. From Kazakhstan, Thailand has forecasted 129,485 Kazakhstani tourists – a 49.73% increase over the same period last year – and 7.93 billion Baht in revenue.
Thapanee Kiatphaibool, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said “The ‘ease of travelling’ policy will enable tourists to save time and spending on visa application and fee, making it easier for tourists to decide to travel to Thailand. With the visa exemption scheme, Thailand could expect to welcome around 4.04-4.4 million Chinese tourists in 2023 and achieve the forecasted revenue target of 257,500 million Baht.”
From 1 January to 10 September 2023, Thailand recorded 2,284,281 Chinese visitors, making China the second largest source of tourist markets after Malaysia. Without the visa exemption scheme, Thailand is expected to see 3,470,430 Chinese visitors in 2023 – about 31% of the recorded year in 2019 – and generate 174,358 million Baht.
The stimulus visa scheme takes effect just ahead of the Golden Week, one of the longest holidays in China, from 1-8 October 2023. During the weeklong holiday in China, airlines have announced their readiness to operate charter flights, increase flight frequencies, and introduce new routes between cities in China and Thailand including Chengdu – Samui, Beijing – Chiang Mai, Guangzhou – Chiang Mai, Shanghai – Chiang Mai, Shanghai – Phuket, Guangzhou – Phuket, and Kunming – Hat Yai.
“From Kazakhstan, Thailand expects the visa exemption scheme to help reach 180,000 tourists by the end of this year,” Thapanee added. From 1 January to 10 September 2023, Thailand saw a record 108,636 tourists from Kazakhstan. Phuket is the favourite destination among Kazakhstani tourists.
The visa exemption scheme extended to Chinese and Kazakhstani tourists forms is expected to help revive Thai tourism and achieve this year’s target of 25-30 million tourists and 2.38 trillion Baht in revenue.
The policy is also expected to help fuel tourism growth through to 2024, reflecting the government’s policy that places tourism as a key mechanism for driving the Thai economy and making Thailand the preferred destination for travellers from around the world.