Indian arrivals set for record
Indian tourists are expected to reach a record high of 2 million this year, up from 1.59 million in 2018, thanks to the exemption for the 2,000-baht visa-on-arrival (VOA) fees.
Klissada Ratanapruk, executive director for Asean, South Asia and South Pacific at the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said the VOA fee waiver is a key driver the government should extend or introduce other visa incentives to lure tourists.
Since mid-November 2018, the government has waived the VOA fee for citizens of certain countries, including two major markets: China and India. The waiver has been extended several times and the latest one, covering 19 nations, will end next April.
The fee exemption has increased arrivals from India significantly, especially in the first nine months this year. During that period, 1.47 million Indians travelled to Thailand, 25.6% growth year-on-year, with tourism income of 62 billion baht, up by 31%.
Of those Indian visitors, some 67% are independent travellers with families.
They tend to travel all year-round, particularly during November and December, he said.
Average spending for this market stood at 45,600 baht per trip or 5,700 baht per day, with the length of stay 5-7 days.
Return visitors and first-time visitors during the first nine months comprise 58.2% and 41.9%, respectively.
“We see new tourism trends from Indian tourists. Besides beaches, they tend to visit other sites such as theme parks in Bangkok and zoos,” said Mr Klissada.
He expects tourism revenue from the India market will increase by at least 20% this year, from 71 billion baht generated in 2018.
Chinnarat Chinburi, a committee member of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta), said despite the economic slowdown, Indian travellers still venture abroad.
The number of those holding a passport remains low at only 5% of the total population of some 1.3 billion, he said.
However, the number of travellers visiting in tour groups is expected to drop, while those travelling by themselves is rising.
Mr Chinnarat said as of Oct 20, there were 229,274 of Indian tourist arrivals who used Atta members’ services, up by 3.71% from the same period last year.
The strong baht, which reduced the rupee’s value by 40-50% this year, has caused many Indian tourists to travel to other destinations such as Turkey, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Georgia, which offer cheaper costs of living.
However, he believes the extension of the 2,000-baht fee waiver until next April can lure more visitors to Thailand, especially those who come for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions.
Mr Chinnarat said some Indian incentive groups have already booked their business trips to Thailand next year.