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Thailand to open up visa-free stays

As China and India emerge as priority targets for Thailand’s latest tourism promotions, visa-free-travel is back on the table for urgent consideration.

Last week, Minister of Tourism and Sports, Pipat Ratchakitprakarn, told Prachachat Business he intends to introduce visa-free travel for Chinese and Indians later this year.

Currently, citizens of both countries need to apply for a visa-on-arrival although the THB2,000 service fee has been waived until October this year.

The new minister says all that might change with both countries joining a long list of countries that enjoy visa-free entry for a stay of 14 days, possibly as early as 1 November.

This year’s target for tourism revenue, including domestic travel, has been set at THB3.4 trillion. Earnings from international tourists will reach around THB2.2 trillion while tourist arrivals should exceed 40.5 million.

The move is part of a broader policy to increase tourism revenue and reverse the slow down in the tourism growth rate.

Pipat says the Chinese market could still deliver as many as 11 million tourists this year up from 10.5 million. While tourist arrivals from India in 2018 reached 1.5 million, making it the sixth-largest source of visitors. The growth rate was an impressive 27% over 2017.

The latest proposal will introduce a one-year pilot project offering Chinese and Indian tourists visa-free entry starting 1 November, a day after the current Visa-on-Arrival project ends.

Pipat told Prachachat Business: “This time I would like to propose visa-free travel, not a free Visa-on-Arrival. I believe it would stimulate the tourism industry and result in a much stronger conclusion for the high season later this year.”

 

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