Visa exemptions yet to make a splash

Visa exemptions yet to make a splash

Passengers make their way through Satellite 1 terminal at Suvarnabhumi airport. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Passengers make their way through Satellite 1 terminal at Suvarnabhumi airport. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Despite the offer of visa exemptions, the Chinese, Taiwanese and Indian markets have yet to record a quick recovery because of several economic factors, say tourism operators.

The government granted visa exemptions for Chinese visitors from Sept 25, but the impact of this strategy has been muted as some Chinese view Thailand as unsafe and the mainland has posted weak economic growth, said Thanet Supornsahasrungsi, former president of the Chon Buri Tourism Council and group executive director of Sunshine Hotels and Resorts.

The slow resumption of flights has also affected outbound travel to Thailand, said Mr Thanet.

He said tourists with high spending power opted for European destinations rather than Thailand during this high season.

According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Thailand welcomed 283,179 and 290,911 Chinese visitors in September and October, respectively.

As of Nov 7, Chinese arrivals for the year tallied 2.84 million, while those from Taiwan and India totalled 595,899 and 1.31 million, respectively, said the TAT.

Mr Thanet said it is unlikely the Chinese market will reach 4 million arrivals this year.

Taiwanese were granted a visa exemption from Nov 10, which he said should facilitate arrivals from this market, which has grown following the pandemic.

The Taiwanese government requested a visa exemption for some time as there were around 2,000 Taiwanese tourists applying for visas to Thailand daily, said Mr Thanet.

He said the exemption will help Thailand compete with other destinations using the same strategy, such as Japan.

However, the visa exemption for the Indian market might have a paltry effect because of limited seat capacity, while the fourth and first quarters usually are not the high season for this market, said Prachoom Tantiprasertsuk, chairperson for marketing at the Thai Hotels Association.

While Thailand is known for Indian incentive and wedding groups, Ms Prachoom said those trips typically occur during the end of the year, requiring advanced booking of at least six months.

Moreover, a 20% outbound tax imposed on Indian tourists still poses a challenge for market growth, she said.

The impact from the visa exemptions might be more evident during the second quarter next year as more corporations and tourists opt for Thailand then because of this entry privilege, said Ms Prachoom.

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