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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Thailand Targets 2.4 Million Indian Tourists with Visa-Free Policy

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has increased its target for Indian tourists to 2.3-2.4 million this year, spurred by the implementation of a 60-day visa-free policy for Indian nationals. This visa waiver, part of a broader initiative that covers citizens from 93 countries, will remain in effect until November 2024.

TAT Governor Thapanee Kiatphaibool announced that the number of Indian arrivals is expected to surpass 1 million by the end of this month, approaching half of the original goal of 2.08 million set for the year. The target was subsequently raised to 2.3-2.4 million, driven by the potential of the Indian market to help achieve the government’s ambitious objective of attracting 36.7 million tourists and generating 3.5 trillion baht in revenue by year-end.

Projections indicate that arrivals from India this year will exceed the pre-pandemic high of 1.9 million Indian tourists recorded in 2019. While there is speculation that the Indian government might reciprocate by exempting visa requirements for Thai tourists, Thapanee noted that no official confirmation has been received. She emphasized that a reciprocal visa-free arrangement would likely boost travel demand between the two nations.

Currently, Thais can apply for an e-visa to visit India for up to one month. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has indicated that the government is negotiating with Indian officials to establish a permanent reciprocal visa-free scheme, similar to the arrangement recently achieved with China.

In August, TAT plans to conduct a roadshow in four second-tier Indian cities—Lucknow, Chandigarh, Bangalore, and Ahmedabad—to attract more tourists. Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, TAT’s deputy governor for international marketing in Asia and the South Pacific, mentioned that their New Delhi office will focus on attracting small families and groups of friends interested in recreational activities in Thailand.

The average spending per trip by Indian tourists has increased to 40,000 baht this year, compared to 38,000 baht in 2023. Flight connectivity between Thailand and India has recovered to 80% of pre-pandemic levels, according to Chattan. The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has committed to increasing the number of seats on Thailand-India routes by 7,000 per week starting in November.

The Airlines Association of Thailand reported that the seat quotas for these routes are predominantly controlled by Thai Airways International, with other airlines struggling to capture a significant market share.

Suksit Suvunditkul, president of the southern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association, highlighted that Indian tourists are among the top three markets for Phuket, consistently arriving throughout the year. They visit for various reasons, including meetings, incentive trips, weddings, and family leisure activities.

Nora Zaarimi
Author: Nora Zaarimi

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