Thailand’s free visa initiative to boost Chinese tourist influx by 700,000

Photo by Renato Marques on Unsplash

Thailand‘s government’s initiative to issue free visas to visitors from China is expected to boost visitor figures by 700,000 during the high season, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). TAT governor Thapanee Kiatphaibool noted that Thailand typically receives between 350,000 and 400,000 Chinese visitors monthly, totalling 2.1 million in the first eight months of this year.

Thailand accounted for approximately 3% of all outbound tourists from mainland China, the highest proportion for any overseas destination. This data does not include travellers from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. The average spend for Chinese tourists per trip was reported to be 40,000 baht.

In the first half of 2023, 40.3 million Chinese tourists ventured abroad, with 93% opting for short-haul destinations. The new Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s proposal for offering free visas is predicted to draw more tourists in the fourth quarter as the TAT supports the addition of more flights between the two countries.

Chuwit Sirivejkul, TAT’s regional director of marketing for East Asia, suggested the free visa policy should be rolled out within the first two weeks of September to allow operators to market their packages for China’s national holiday in October, which typically sees a surge in travel, often exceeding the New Year holiday period.

The TAT, Consular Affairs Department and Tourism Department recently entered into an agreement to create a system for synchronising inbound tourist data across the organisations. Ruj Thammongkol, director-general of the Consular Affairs Department, stated this system would expedite the approval time for tourist visas, especially for large Chinese tour groups.

The automated system will cross-reference visitor information using application programming interface linkage technology through TAT’s Visa Pre-Screening System, checking against Chinese government data to confirm the tourist has indeed purchased a flight ticket or tour package.

Travel agents in Thailand working in conjunction with a Chinese tour company are required to input each tourist’s information and itinerary details into the Tourism Department’s job order system. Via this shared system, the e-visa system can automatically verify the traveller’s details.

The best-case scenario sees visas approved in three working days, down from the current seven days. The system is undergoing a test run through the following week and is anticipated to be fully operational later this month.

The Consular Affairs Department is awaiting an official announcement regarding the free visa plan. In 2022, the department generated approximately 1.1 billion baht from all types of visas issued, including for tourists and long-stay visitors, reported Bangkok Post.

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Alex Morgan

Alex is a 42-year-old former corporate executive and business consultant with a degree in business administration. Boasting over 15 years of experience working in various industries, including technology, finance, and marketing, Alex has acquired in-depth knowledge about business strategies, management principles, and market trends. In recent years, Alex has transitioned into writing business articles and providing expert commentary on business-related issues. Fluent in English and proficient in data analysis, Alex strives to deliver well-researched and insightful content to readers, combining practical experience with a keen analytical eye to offer valuable perspectives on the ever-evolving business landscape.

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