To achieve this year’s tourism revenue target of 2.38 trillion Baht, the Royal Thai Government led by Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Srettha Thavisin has announced the temporary tourist visa exemption scheme for passport holders of the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Kazakhstan, effective from 25 September 2023 to 29 February 2024.
During the five-month visa exemption period, Chinese and Kazakhstani citizens will be granted a provisional visa exemption for a 30-day stay in Thailand for tourism purposes.
The Minister of Tourism and Sports, Her Excellency Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol, stated, “This stimulus visa scheme forms part of the government’s Quick-win measures announced on 11 September 2023 to achieve the long-term goal and boost the Thai economy through travel and tourism. It will help stimulate inbound travel from China which is one of Thailand’s key source tourist markets and Kazakhstan which is considered an emerging market, especially during this coming high tourist season. Ultimately, it will help revive Thai tourism and reach the revenue target set for this year.”
During the five-month visa-free period, Thailand anticipates receiving between 1,912,000 and 2,888,500 Chinese travellers, a year-on-year increase of 41-62%, and generating between 92.58 and 140 billion Baht in tourism revenue. Thailand anticipates 129,485 Kazakhstani tourists, a 49.73% increase over the same period last year, and 7.93 billion Baht in revenue from Kazakhstan.
Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Ms. Thapanee Kiatphaibool stated, “The ‘ease of travelling’ policy will enable tourists to save time and spending on visa application and fee, making it easier for tourists to decide to travel to Thailand. With the visa exemption scheme, Thailand could expect to welcome around 4.04-4.4 million Chinese tourists in 2023 and achieve the forecasted revenue target of 257,500 million Baht.”
From 1 January to 10 September 2023, Thailand received 2,284,281 Chinese tourists, making China the second-largest source of tourism after Malaysia. Without the visa waiver programme, Thailand is projected to receive 3,470,430 Chinese visitors in 2023, which is approximately 31% of the number recorded in 2019 and will generate 174,358 million Baht.
The stimulus visa programme goes into effect just before the Golden Week, one of China’s longest holidays, from October 1-8, 2023. During China’s weeklong holiday, airlines have announced plans to operate charter flights, increase flight frequencies, and introduce new routes between China and Thailand, including Chengdu – Samui, Beijing – Chiang Mai, Guangzhou – Chiang Mai, Shanghai – Chiang Mai, Shanghai – Phuket, Guangzhou – Phuket, and Kunming – Hat Yai.
Ms. Thapanee added, “Thailand expects the visa exemption programme to attract 180,000 tourists from Kazakhstan by the end of this year.”
From 1 January to 10 September 2023, a record 108,636 Kazakhs visited Thailand. Phuket is the most popular tourist destination among Kazakhstanis.
The visa exemption programme extended to Chinese and Kazakhstani tourists is anticipated to assist in reviving Thai tourism and achieving this year’s 25-30 million tourists and 2.38 trillion Baht revenue goals.
The policy is also expected to contribute to tourism growth through 2024, reflecting the government’s policy that positions tourism as a key mechanism for propelling the Thai economy and establishing Thailand as a preferred travel destination.