The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) anticipates that the government’s initiative to grant free visas to Chinese visitors will contribute to an additional 700,000 arrivals during the peak tourist season.
The initiative, which is set to be implemented on October 1st, is designed to rejuvenate Chinese tourism in Thailand, addressing the lower-than-expected number of Chinese tourists following the reopening of China’s borders.
According to TAT governor Thapanee Kiatphaibool, Thailand typically welcomes between 350,000 and 400,000 visitors from China monthly, totaling 2.1 million in the first eight months of this year.
Thapanee said that Thailand held the top spot among overseas destinations, representing about 3% of mainland China’s outbound tourists. The statistic, however, excludes travelers from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. On average, Chinese tourists spent approximately 40,000 baht per trip, per person.
During the initial half of 2023, a total of 40.3 million Chinese tourists traveled overseas, with a significant 93% choosing short-haul getaways. The upcoming implementation of Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s free visa proposal is anticipated to attract more tourists in the fourth quarter, aka the peak tourist season.
Meanwhile, Adit Chairattananon, secretary-general of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta), urged the government to launch the policy in September after the first official Cabinet meeting because tour companies are likely going to require around one month to prepare after the policies official announcement.
In the meantime, the government should also engage in negotiations with airlines to increase flights between Thailand and China to boost Chinese tourist arrivals by 10% in the last two months of 2023, Adit suggested.
It is expected that the number of Chinese tourists will surpass the annual target of 5 million people with the help of the free visa policy, as Thailand already received 2.18 million Chinese tourists. The policy will likely attract around 2.1 million additional tourists overall, coupled with the usual surge of visitors during the high season, Adit estimated.