September 26, 2023
BANGKOK – The prime minister chaired the welcoming ceremony for Chinese tourists arriving by flight XJ 761 operated by Thai AirAsia X, flying from Xian to Suvarnabhumi. The flight brought 341 passengers, the first tourists from China to avail of the Thai government’s visa exemption policy for travellers holding passports or travel documents of China and Kazakhstan. The policy will be in effect from September 25, 2023, to February 29, 2027.
Srettha presented the visitors with elephant pants as a token gift.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) organised welcoming ceremonies for Chinese and Kazakh tourists at the four major airports: Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, and Phuket.
Srettha said that reviving the economy through tourism is an urgent policy priority for his government, as tourism is the first key to generating income that can stimulate the economy and create jobs for the people on a large scale.
One of the measures is the proactive approach to improving the ease of travel to Thailand through the visa exemption policy. Both China and Kazakhstan are considered high-potential markets and have significant growth rates, which are crucial for the overall recovery of the Thai tourism industry.
The other three airports welcomed tourists from 11 flights.
The Chinese tourism market is of paramount importance for Thailand’s economic recovery, as it offers substantial potential for high growth in both income and numbers. However, the Chinese market still faces challenges that impact travel to Thailand.
From January 1 to September 17, 2023, Thailand welcomed slightly over 19 million foreign tourists. With 2.34 million, Chinese tourists were the second-largest group after Malaysian in that period.
As for the Kazakh tourist market, the number of arrivals to Thailand has nearly doubled since the pre-Covid-19 period, from approximately 56,529 arrivals in 2022 to 109,865 in 2023.
The TAT anticipates the visa-exemption policy to bring around 4.01 million to 4.4 million Chinese tourists to Thailand in 2023, generating revenue of 257.5 billion baht.
Within the first five months of the visa-exemption policy, around 2,888,500 Chinese tourists are expected to visit Thailand, generating revenue of 140.313 billion baht. This represents a remarkable recovery rate of 62% when compared to 2022.
Additionally, it is projected that around 150,000 Kazakhstani tourists will travel to Thailand in 2023, and during the same five-month period of visa exemption, approximately 129,485 Kazakhstani arrivals are expected. It would mark an increase of 49.7% compared to the same period in the previous year, generating revenue of approximately 7.93 billion baht.