The government expects to attract 2.9 million arrivals and 140 billion baht in revenue from a Chinese tourism boom as a result of a new five-month holiday period visa exemption programme, part of a bid to help strengthen the nation’s wobbly economic recovery.
The nation has already seen a strong response after temporarily waiving visas for mainland visitors from Sept 25 through next February: More than 22,000 Chinese travellers entered Thailand in the programme’s first two days, government spokesman Chai Wacharonke said Sunday on an official Facebook page. The country expects 140.3 billion baht in tourism revenue from the programme, Mr Chai said.
The visa waiver is expected to accelerate the return of Chinese tourists — the largest group of visitors to the kingdom before the pandemic. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s administration, which took power last month, cleared the exemptions for Chinese and Kazakh travellers as part of its measures to jump-start the slow economic recovery and prevent the nation from slipping to recession.
The measure is part of the government’s goal to raise tourism revenue to pre-Covid levels, with a target of 3.1 trillion baht in 2024. Thailand has welcomed 19.5 million foreign tourists so far this year, with as many as 28 million expected by year-end. Travellers from Malaysia topped the list of travellers at 3.2 million, followed by Chinese at 2.4 million as of Sept 25, according to the tourism ministry.
About 650,000 mainlanders have booked trips to Thailand in October, according to Mr Chai, citing a report from the Chinese embassy to Thailand. The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects Chinese arrivals of around 4 to 4.4 million this year, according to Mr Chai — who added that the visa programme was well-timed to cover China’s Golden Week holidays this week, as well as new year’s celebrations.
“Thailand is very pleased to welcome all Chinese brothers and sisters,” Mr Srettha said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Saturday. “Our country has beautiful seas and a variety of Thai food. Hope everyone will travel safely and be impressed.”