Thailand targets 3.5 trillion baht tourism boost for economy

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Thailand’s government is setting its sights on a 3.5 trillion baht (US$101 billion) boost to the economy via the tourism sector this year, aiming to establish the nation as an all-season tourist hotspot.

A spokesperson for the government, Chai Wacharonke, revealed that over 27 million international travellers graced the country in 2023, with the majority stemming from Malaysia, closely followed by China.

The number of tourists between January 1 and December 24 of the previous year stood at 27.25 million, aligning with the government’s aim of luring 25-28 million visitors in 2023.

Malaysians topped the list of arrivals with 4.44 million, while China contributed 3.42 million, South Korea 1.62 million, India 1.59 million, and Russia 1.43 million, as per data from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

The week of December 18 to 24 saw 796,808 individuals enter the country, marking a 16.6% increase from the preceding week, according to the government spokesperson.

In a bid to reach the 3.5 trillion baht target in tourism earnings this year, the authorities are spearheading a campaign to position Thailand as an all-year-round destination. The initiative will spotlight lesser-known tourist locales alongside the already popular ones, Chai added.

The government is projecting revenues of 1 trillion baht (US$29 billion) from domestic travellers and 2.5 trillion baht (US$72 billion) from overseas visitors, reported Bangkok Post.

“The prime minister is confident the tourism industry and related sectors have the potential to grow further. All state agencies are ready to work together to achieve the target as tourism is crucial to driving economic growth,” the spokesperson stated.

In line with these efforts, the Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will commence promoting lesser-visited provinces presenting unexplored investment and tourism opportunities from this month. The list includes Phrae, Lampang, Nakhon Sawan, Nakhon Phanom, Si Sa Ket, Chanthaburi, Ratchaburi, Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Si Thammarat, and Trang.

The visa-free policy for selected tourists has provided a significant lift to the tourism sector, stated Thapanee Kiatphaibool, Governor of TAT. Visitors from Kazakhstan and China can currently stay for 30 days visa-free until February 29, while Russian passport holders can enjoy a 90-day stay until April 30. Additionally, tourists from India and Taiwan can benefit from a 30-day stay until May 10.

The TAT Governor also revealed plans to request the government to extend the visa-free policy for Chinese and Kazakh visitors once it expires and lengthen the permitted stay from 30 days to 90 days. Furthermore, a plan to issue multiple-entry visas for tourists is in discussion with the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Pongthep Malachasing, leader of Wang Nam Khieo tourism promotion club in Nakhon Ratchasima, called on the government to rejuvenate the region’s tourism sector as its income significantly contributes to economic growth. He underlined that Nakhon Ratchasima, the gateway to the Northeast, welcomes numerous travellers annually who spend in Pak Chong and Wang Nam Khieo districts. He added that Nakhon Ratchasima became the first province in Thailand to house three Unesco sites, following the declaration of the Khorat Geopark as a Unesco Global Geopark in May.

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