6 June 2024

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and representatives of the Thai tourism sector and Ministry of Tourism and Sports went to Suvarnabhumi airport this morning (Monday) to welcome the first group of 341 Chinese tourists arriving in Thailand without a visa, under the Visa Exemption program which came into effect today and will last until February 29.

Similar welcoming ceremonies for tourists from China and Kazakhstan were held at Don Mueang, Phuket and Chiang Mai airports.

Besides the direct flight by Thai AirAsia X from Shanghai, which landed at Suvarnabhumi airport this morning, there are three flights scheduled to arrive today at Don Mueang airport from Kunming, Changsha and Nanning, two flights at Chiang Mai airport from Shanghai and Kunming, one flight at Phuket airport from Kazakhstan and three flights from Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou.

At Suvarnabhumi airport, the arriving Chinese tourists were each presented with a souvenir and a lei by the prime minister and his staff.

The prime minister told the Thai media that the most important thing for the foreign tourists is their safety “from the moment they step foot on Thai soil until they depart the country for home.”

He said that he does not want tourists to just visit the four main tourist destinations, but secondary cities as well and wants them to stay in Thailand longer.

He added that he learned from Thai tourism-related businesses that advance hotel bookings have increased substantially ahead of start of the visa free program.

Meanwhile, Tourism and Sports Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol said she is confident that the visa free program will help boost the Thai economy in general and the domestic tourism business in particular, especially family tour groups, package tours and incentive tour groups, during the third quarter of the year.

She expects tourist arrivals for the whole year to reach 30 million.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Thapanee Kiatphaibool predicts that 2.8 million Chinese tourists will visit Thailand under the visa free program, generating about 140 billion baht in revenue.

She also predicts that about 129,000 tourists from Kazakhstan will visit under the same program, representing an increase of 49.7% year on year, generating about 7.9 billion baht in revenue.