Visa-free policy for Chinese, Kazakh tourists boosts Suvarnabhumi Airport readiness

Photo: Yahya/Pattaya News.

Suvarnabhumi International Airport is preparing to welcome an influx of tourists from China and Kazakhstan following the announcement of a new visa-free policy, effective from next week. The Immigration Bureau (IB) is set to bolster its officer presence at the airport in anticipation of the increased arrivals.

The visa-free policy, approved on Wednesday, September 13 and publicised in the Royal Gazette yesterday, offers nationals from both countries hassle-free entry. The policy will be in action from Monday until February 29 of the following year.

In light of the expected surge in tourist numbers, Deputy Police Commissioner Thatchai Pitaneelaboot held a meeting with officers from Immigration Division 2 at the airport to review and assess their readiness to handle the incoming wave of visitors during the high tourist season.

Thatchai projected that the arrival of tourists, particularly from China, will see a notable increase after the visa-free policy implementation. The current figure of 300,000 Chinese tourists per month is expected to surge to 500,000.

The airport is all set to manage this surge with about 150 immigration police officers ready to operate all 119 immigration counters during peak hours, ensuring swift service. The peak times for flights from China and Kazakhstan are typically before dawn and midday. Thatchai assured that each visitor’s visa queue time would be under 20 minutes.

In addition to the regular immigration checkpoints, there will be special ones for tour groups. Officers proficient in various languages will be assigned to immigration areas to assist visitors if needed, reported Bangkok Post.

Addressing concerns about the potential misuse of the visa-free policy scheme by Chinese nationals linked to shady businesses, Thatchai stated that the Immigration Bureau has robust screening and background check systems in place to prevent such individuals from entering Thailand.

According to the Tourism and Sports Ministry, from January 1 to September 18 this year, Thailand welcomed 19,000,988 international tourists, contributing around 795 billion baht to the country’s economy. Just last week, the country welcomed 470,708 foreign tourists.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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