Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin will travel to India by the end of this year to meet his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to discuss ways to attract more Indian visitors to Thailand.
He said that the government has yet to approve a visa-free policy for Indian tourists, as there are still problems regarding visa application procedures that remain unaddressed.
Moreover, as the number of flights from India to Thailand remains limited, Thai Airways International (THAI) will hold talks with Indian authorities to increase their landing slots at Indian airports.
"I expect to discuss the matter with the Indian leader by the end of this year," Mr Srettha, also finance minister, said.
He noted that many travellers from India are high-spending tourists, and each year, couples from India flock to Thailand to hold wedding parties, each spending tens of millions of baht.
Indian guests who wish to bring in expensive jewellery to wear at these festivities are reminded to pay the relevant taxes for bringing in luxury items, Mr Srettha reminded. However, the former business tycoon said he would discuss the possibility of exempting Indian tourists from paying such taxes with the Finance Ministry.
According to Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) figures, India was the fifth-largest source of foreign visitors to Thailand between Jan 1-April 30 this year. About 450,000 out of the 8.6 million foreign tourists who came to Thailand in that period were Indians.
The average Indian tourist spent about 40,800 baht per trip in Thailand in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
The majority of Indian tourists visited Bangkok, Pattaya in Chon Buri, Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui in Surat Thani, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Cha-am in Phetchaburi, Samut Prakan and Koh Phangan in Surat Thani, according to the TAT.
The prime minister also said the government is speeding the rollout of the visa-free scheme for Chinese tourists as the high season is approaching.
The visa-free scheme for these tourists is expected to generate 35 billion baht for the economy, he said.
Citing information from Airports of Thailand, government spokesman Chai Wacharonke said that Chiang Mai airport will operate round the clock starting on Nov 1 to accommodate more tourists.