Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin announced his impending visit to India, scheduled for later this year, with an agenda to discuss boosting Indian tourism in Thailand with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The two leaders aim to resolve ongoing issues with visa application procedures and achieve approval for a visa-free policy for Indian tourists.
Srettha told the media yesterday that he expects to discuss the matter with the Indian leader by the end of this year.
The 61 year old PM further mentioned that Thai Airways International is also in talks with Indian authorities to amplify their landing slots at Indian airports, given the limited number of flights currently operating from India to Thailand.
PM Srettha acknowledged the economic potential of Indian visitors, noting that many are high-spending tourists. In particular, wedding tourism from India is lucrative, with couples often spending tens of millions of baht on their celebrations in Thailand.
There is, however, a regulatory concern regarding luxury taxes on expensive jewellery that Indian guests often bring to wear at these events. The Thai PM stated that he plans to discuss the possibility of exempting Indian tourists from this tax with the Finance Ministry.
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) data indicates that India was the fifth-largest source of foreign visitors to Thailand from January 1 to April 30 this year, with approximately 450,000 Indian tourists among the 8.6 million foreign visitors during this period.
In 2019, before the pandemic, the average Indian tourist spent around 40,800 baht per trip in Thailand. Most Indian tourists frequented destinations like Bangkok, Pattaya in Chon Buri, Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui in Surat Thani, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Cha-am in Phetchaburi, Samut Prakan and Koh Phangan in Surat Thani.
PM Srettha also mentioned that the government is expediting the implementation of a visa-free scheme for Chinese tourists, in preparation for the high season. He suggested that the scheme could potentially bring in 35 billion baht for the Thai economy.
Government spokesman Chai Wacharonke, citing information from Airports of Thailand, announced that Chiang Mai airport will commence 24-hour operations from November 1, in a bid to accommodate an increased influx of tourists, reported Bangkok Post.
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