E-visa limit will stop Chinese tourists from visiting Thailand: TAT
The current visa system must be changed if Thailand is to achieve its target of 5 million tourists from China this year, according to the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT).
The return of Chinese visitors since February has helped boost Thai economic recovery, said TAT deputy governor for International Marketing Asia and South Pacific, Tanes Petsuwan.
One million Chinese tourists have already visited Thailand this year. The TAT forecasts rising demand will bring at least 5 million Chinese visitors in 2023, generating 446 billion baht in revenue, he said.
That estimate is based on a forecast rise in Chinese arrivals from the current 10,000 per day to 20,000 per day in the second half of the year.
However, currently the Foreign Ministry's electronic visa system can only issue 84,000 e-visas per month.
If this limit on e-visas persists, it would be impossible to attract the 5 million Chinese tourists to Thailand this year, Tanes warned.
The ministry's Consular Affairs Department has promised to speed up visa approval to 15 days or less. However, tour operators want e-visa approval to be made within three days as it affects tourists' decisions, he said.
China was Thailand’s largest foreign tourism market before the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020.
On Monday, the TAT held a joint press conference with the Tourist Police Bureau to reassure Chinese visitors about travel safety in Thailand.
Tourist Police chief Lt-General Sukhum Prommayon said his force was working hard and making the most of modern technology to ensure tourists from all over the world can enjoy peace of mind in Thailand.
Foreign visitors can use the 1155 tourist police hotline and also download the Tourist Police I Lert U mobile app for emergency assistance in many languages, he said.
Tourists can also take a photo of any incident and upload it via the app to receive assistance, he added.
Meanwhile tourist police and patrol vehicles are equipped with live cameras to monitor and broadcast situations to the emergency response centre.
Tourist police will also join with the Royal Thai Police in stepping up safety and security during festivals and the high season, he added.
The TAT said a total of 9.78 million foreign tourists visited Thailand from January 1 to May 21. Most came from Malaysia (1.39 million), China (1.03 million), Russia (724,607), South Korea (598,554) and India (545,354).
The TAT recently upped its target this year from 18-20 million foreign tourists to 25 million, or 66% of the pre-pandemic level in 2019. Thailand aims to generate 2.38 trillion baht in tourism revenue this year.