In a significant move aimed at bolstering tourism and the economy, the Thai government has expressed strong confidence in the success of its temporary visa-free policy for Chinese nationals. Announced on Sunday, October 1, through the official Facebook page “Thai Khu Fah,” the policy grants free temporary visa rights to Chinese citizens, with expectations that it will infuse more than 140 billion baht into Thailand’s economy.
A spokesperson for the Thai government shared the results of the Visa Exemption measure, which covers tourism for Chinese and Kazakhstan tourists from September 25, 2023, to February 29, 2024. The findings revealed an immediate impact, with 10,988 Chinese tourists entering Thailand on September 25, 2023, followed by a staggering 11,160 arrivals on September 26, 2023.
A recent report from the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Thailand shed light on the overwhelming response to the Visa Exemption policy. It quickly became a hot topic in China, with the number of visitors to Thailand’s travel website surging exponentially. In October alone, more than 650,000 people made bookings, while foreign media outlets have taken keen interest, extensively covering the surge in Thai tourism popularity among Chinese travelers. For instance, tour packages from Spring Tours between September 28 and October 1, 2023, were almost entirely sold out, and searches for Thai tourist attractions on Trip.com surged by 800%.
The Thai government hailed this as a resounding success of the visa-free policy, which is poised to stimulate the Chinese tourist market and serve as a crucial driver of the Thai economy. This timely initiative spans the coveted Golden Week period, when Chinese tourists traditionally embark on vacations, extending into the New Year holiday season.
Meanwhile, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) anticipates that the Visa Exemption measure will have a substantial impact on the Chinese tourist market. Approximately 4.01 to 4.4 million travelers are expected to visit Thailand in 2023, with around 2,888,500 Chinese tourists estimated during the five-month visa exemption period. This surge in arrivals is projected to generate an income of 140,313 million baht.
Notably, Thailand’s visa-free policy coincides with China’s “Golden Week,” a prolonged holiday period that encompasses China’s National Day and the Mid-Autumn Festival. Running from September 29 to October 8, this Golden Week marks one of the first extended holidays since the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, allowing Chinese citizens to travel freely once more.