The regime will be valid from September 25, 2023 to February 29, 2024
The Royal Government of Thailand, headed by Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Sretta Taweesin announced a temporary tourist visa exemption scheme for passport holders of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Kazakhstan, which will operate from September 25, 2023 to February 29, 2024, in order to achieve this year's tourism revenue target of 2.38 trillion baht.
Citizens of China and Kazakhstan will be granted a temporary visa exemption for a 30-day stay in Thailand for tourism purposes during the five-month visa-free period.
Ms. Sudavan Wangsufakikosol, Minister of Tourism and Sports, stated: “This will help stimulate inbound tourism from China, which is one of Thailand's key tourism markets, and Kazakhstan, which is considered an emerging market, especially during the upcoming high tourism season. Ultimately, this will help revive Thai tourism and achieve the revenue target set for this year.”
The government will assess the effect of this temporary scheme by the end of winter.
During the five-month visa-free period, Thailand is expected to receive between 1,912,000 and 2,888,500 Chinese tourists – an annual increase of approximately 41 -62% – and will generate tourism income of about 92.58-140 billion baht. Thailand forecasts 129,485 Kazakh tourists from Kazakhstan – up 49.73% from the same period last year – and revenue of 7.93 billion baht.
Ms Tapani Kiatfaibul, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said: “The 'Ease of Travel' policy will allow tourists to save time and costs on visa processing and fees, making it easier for tourists to decide to travel to Thailand. With the visa-free scheme, Thailand can expect to welcome around 4.04-4.4 million Chinese tourists in 2023 and achieve a projected revenue target of 257,500 million baht.”
From January 1 to September 10, 2023, Thailand received 2,284,281 Chinese visitors, making China the second largest source of tourism markets after Malaysia. Without the visa-free regime, Thailand is expected to welcome 3,470,430 Chinese visitors in 2023 – about 31% of those registered in 2019 – and bring in 174,358 million baht.
The incentive visa scheme comes into effect ahead of Golden Week, one of China's longest holidays, from 1 to 8 October 2023. During the week-long holiday in China, airlines announced their readiness to operate charter flights, increase flight frequencies and introduce new routes between cities in China and Thailand, including Chengdu – Samui, Beijing – Chiang Mai, Guangzhou – Chiang Mai, Shanghai – Chiang Mai, Shanghai – Phuket, Guangzhou – Phuket and Kunming – Hat Yai.
“Thailand expects the visa-free scheme to help attract 180,000 tourists from Kazakhstan by the end of this year,” added Ms Tapani.
From January 1 to September 10, 2023, a record 108,636 tourists from Kazakhstan visited Thailand. Phuket is a favorite destination among Kazakh tourists.
Thanks to the new policy, Thailand expects to welcome 28 million foreign visitors in 2023, generating more than 1.4 trillion baht (about $39.15 billion) ) income.
According to forecasts, in 2024 the number of incoming travelers to the country will reach 40 million, and total tourism income will be 3.1 trillion baht (about $86.7 billion).
Before the pandemic, Chinese tourists made up about 28% of the nearly 40 million foreign visitors to Thailand. Tourism accounts for about 12% of the country's GDP.
The policy is also expected to boost tourism growth until 2024, reflecting government policies that see tourism as a key mechanism to boost Thailand's economy and makes Thailand a preferred destination for travelers from all over the world.