TAT eyes extending visa waiver for Chinese after lower than expected arrivals
With Chinese arrivals likely to fall below the 4.4 million target, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is contemplating extending visa exemption for Chinese visitors until the end of 2024.
TAT governor Thapanee Kiatphaibool recently said that despite the government’s decision to waive visas for Chinese passport holders for five months (September 25 to February 29, 2024), the daily influx of Chinese tourists has hovered around 8,000 to 10,000.
After China’s Golden Week holiday on October 1, the flow of visitors has remained consistent, averaging at slightly less or slightly more than 10,000 – quite similar to daily numbers from Malaysia.
Hence, she said, TAT will closely monitor the situation until yearend to assess the possibility of taking steps to boost daily Chinese tourist arrivals to about 15,000.
TAT said it will base its decision on feedback from the tourism industry. If there is a substantial demand from business operators, it will ask the government to extend the waiver until the end of 2024.
Recognising the crucial role convenience plays in attracting tourists, TAT is also considering extending the waiver for four other markets alongside China – Kazakhstan, Russia, India and Taiwan. However, China appears most likely to get an extension.
From January 1 to November 5, some 2.83 million Chinese tourists entered Thailand, ranking second after Malaysian tourists, which stood at 3.69 million.
Despite TAT’s target of attracting up to 4.4 million Chinese tourists this year, the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) expects 3.5 million, far fewer than the target.
As for the top trending hashtag #banKoreatravel on X (formerly Twitter), Thapanee there was little spillover impact on the travel industry. She said bilateral relations between the two countries were still strong, and people should avoid using strong language online regarding this matter.
The hashtag trend was sparked by several netizens complaining about stringent regulations imposed by South Korean immigration.
However, despite this, Thailand has welcomed more than 1.3 million South Korean tourists in the first 10 months of this year. South Koreans rank third in most arrivals after China and Malaysia.