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Thailand Welcomes Over 20 Million Tourists, Attributing Surge to “Free Visa” Attraction for Chinese Visitors

Thailand has celebrated a milestone in its tourism industry as the number of tourists entering the country since January 1, 2023, has exceeded 20 million. The “free visa” initiative, particularly appealing to Chinese travelers, has played a pivotal role in driving this impressive influx of visitors.

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports, through its Economic, Tourism, and Sports Division, disclosed that this surge in tourism has resulted in 839,409 million baht in income from foreign tourist spending. Among the top five nations sending tourists to Thailand, Malaysia ranked first with 3,280,622 visitors, followed closely by China with 2,509,698, South Korea with 1,197,763, India with 1,165,935, and Russia with 994,431 tourists.

The Minister of Tourism and Sports shared insights from a preliminary assessment of tourism statistics, provided by the Office of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism and Sports. During the week of September 24 to October 1, 2023, Thailand welcomed a total of 552,419 foreign tourists. This marked a notable increase of 71,015 visitors compared to the preceding week, signifying a week-on-week growth rate of 14.75%.

One of the most significant drivers of this increase in visitors was the introduction of the “VISA Free” measure, particularly appealing to Chinese tourists. Following its implementation, Chinese tourist arrivals surged by 44,744, representing an impressive week-on-week growth of 72.49%. Tourists from East Asia recorded the highest increase at 37.47% from the previous week, followed by visitors from Africa (+28.68%), South Asia (+18.62%), Europe (+9.92%), America (+7.83%), and ASEAN (+3.10%). However, tourists from Oceania and the Middle East experienced a decline of 5.02% and 4.78%, respectively. The top five countries contributing to the influx of foreign tourists included China, Malaysia, South Korea, India, and Laos.

Despite this positive momentum in Thailand’s tourism sector, challenges remain on the horizon. Rising fuel costs, persistent inflation due to the global economic slowdown, and the ongoing armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine continue to exert pressure on the industry’s recovery. Nevertheless, the forthcoming week anticipates approximately 540,000 foreign tourists, including those from East Asian and European markets, reflecting cautious optimism for Thailand’s tourism resurgence.

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