Thailand wants more tourists from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

Thailand’s tourism officials are eyeing two Central Asian countries in hopes of more tourists. Those countries are Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Travellers from both countries are interested in visiting Thailand, Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said on Monday. Phiphat said that Kazakh and Uzbek tourists started to show interest after Thailand extended its Visa on Arrival from 15 to 30 days on October 1.

Now, Air Austana plans to start daily direct flights from Almaty, Kazakhstan to Bangkok, and Phuket on October 30. Sunday Airlines plans to add new flights this winter to Phuket and U-Tapao from several cities in Kazakhstan. These cities include Almaty, Astana, Kostany, Shymkent, and Uralsk.

In the first few months of this year, about 22,000 Kazakhs visited Thailand, Nation Thailand reported. The Tourism Ministry believes that this number could jump to 55,000 by the end of the year. This would be almost as much as the number of Kazakh tourists in pre-Covid days. In 2019, 56,000 Kazakh tourists arrived in Thailand.

Meanwhile, Thailand saw 2,496 arrivals from Uzbekistan in the first eight months of this year. The Tourism Ministry expects a total of 8,500 this year. In 2019, the number of Uzbekistani tourists in Thailand was 19,000.

Phiphat noted that Uzbek tourists have high spending power and qualify for the Visa on Arrival, but the country currently has no direct flights to Thailand.

Over 5 million tourists arrived in Thailand between January 1 and September 8. The total number of foreign visitors was 5,018,172.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says the biggest group of tourists came from Malaysia, with 751,397 arrivals. Up next was India, with 480,825 arrivals. In third place was Laos, with 310,464 arrivals. Cambodia sent the fourth most tourists to Thailand, with a total of 249,084 arrivals.

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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