Thailand welcomed more than 22 million foreign tourists over the past 10 months, with the government’s visa-free policy helping boost arrivals, according to government spokesman Chai Wacharonke.
Based on statistics collected to Oct 29, the top five source countries for tourists (in order) were Malaysia, China, South Korea, India and Russia, said Mr Chai.
Authorities believe the number of arrivals will increase further as a visa-free policy for nationals of many countries will attract visitors with high potential, said the spokesman.
Visitors from 64 countries can now enter the country visa-free for 30 days, after which they can apply for an extension of stay.
A visa exemption for visitors from China and Kazakhstan took effect on Sept 25 and will last until the end of February. On his recent visit to Beijing, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin told Chinese leaders he would like to make the policy permanent for their citizens.
This week the government announced that a visa exemption for visitors from India and Taiwan would take effect from Nov 10 to May 10.
According to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, there were 505,672 foreign tourists visited the country from Oct 23 to Oct 29. The figure was higher than expected due to an increase in flights, said Mr Chai.
Arrivals are expected to increase in the week from Oct 30 to Nov 5 as more Europeans arrive as their cold season is starting. The visa-free policy for Chinese and Kazakh tourists has also helped lift arrivals, he said.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand has set a full-year target of 25-28 million foreign visitors who will generate about 2.16 trillion baht in revenue, said the spokesman.
A record 40 million foreign travellers visited Thailand in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down travel for more than two years.
The country welcomed 11.5 million foreign tourists last year but almost all of them came in the second half of the year after Covid curbs were lifted.