Thailand, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia, is set to welcome more visitors from India and Taiwan by waiving off visa requirements for them. The new policy will be effective from the coming month to May 2024, according to a government official.
The spokesperson, Chai Wacharonke, said that arrivals from India and Taiwan can enter Thailand for 30 days without a visa. This is expected to boost tourism revenue for the country, which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following China’s footsteps
Thailand had already scrapped visa requirements for Chinese tourists in September this year, hoping to attract more visitors from its largest source market. China accounted for 11 million of the record 39 million arrivals in Thailand in 2019, before the pandemic struck.
However, the visa-free policy for China has not yielded significant results so far, as travel restrictions and quarantine measures remain in place. Thailand has recorded only 22 million tourist arrivals from January to October 29, generating 927.5 billion baht ($25.67 billion).
Targeting India and Taiwan
India and Taiwan are among the top source markets for Thailand’s tourism industry. So far this year, India has been the fourth largest source market with nearly 1.2 million arrivals, after Malaysia, China and South Korea. Taiwan ranked seventh with about 600,000 arrivals.
With more airlines and hospitality chains targeting these markets, inbound tourism from India and Taiwan has shown signs of growth. Thailand is aiming at about 28 million arrivals in 2023, with the new government hoping the travel sector can compensate for continued weak exports that have restrained economic growth.
Following Sri Lanka’s example
Thailand is not the only country in Asia that is trying to lure more tourists by offering visa-free entry. Last week, Sri Lanka announced a similar move for India as well as six other countries: China, Russia, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia and Thailand.
The country’s foreign affairs minister Ali Sabry made the announcement on social media platform X, saying that the free visa policy will be a pilot project until March 21, 2024. Sri Lanka hopes to revive its tourism industry, which was devastated by the Easter Sunday bombings in 2019 and the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020.