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15 Sep 2023


Visa-free entry program is a boon to Thailand’s inbound tourism with positive impacts beginning to be seen in 2024 (Current Issue No.3434 Full Ed.)


        It is expected that Thailand’s inbound tourism will be supported by the government’s visa-free entry program for visitors from China and Kazakhstan. However, as the Chinese tourism market is being pressured by the slowing economy and persistent restrictions in its air services while such a marketing drive is seen as imminent, the positive impacts from the visa-free program may be limited.  We at KResearch are of the view that the number of Chinese tourist arrivals in Thailand may average roughly 350,000-400,000 per month during the remainder of 2023, as compared to around 280,0000 per month reported during 8M23. The positive impacts of this measure will be clearly seen in 2024, particularly during the Lunar New Year. Meanwhile, although the number of Kazakh tourist arrivals in Thailand accounts for only 1 percent of Thailand’s total international tourist arrivals, the Kazakh outbound tourism market is emerging. As a result, the visa-free program will likely help put Thailand as among the top tourist destinations for the Kazakhs.
        Meanwhile, the recovery rate in Thailand’s inbound tourism market so far is lower than that assessed in early 2023 because the decision of international tourists to visit Thailand was affected by many factors, particularly the sluggish economies of their home countries and persistently high travel expenses. So far, the number of international tourist arrivals in Thailand accounts for about 67 percent of the total figure reported during the same period of 2022. The number of foreign tourist arrivals from major markets, including China, Lao PDR and Japan thus far accounts for less than 50 percent of the total figure recorded during the same period of 2022. Looking ahead, there are specific issues that may also affect Thailand’s inbound tourism. These include the fact that some Indian tourists may be reluctant to visit Thailand after the Indian government hiked the outward funds transfer fee from 5 percent to 20 percent. Moreover, competition in the international tourism market has intensified and each country has introduced specific measures to lure foreign tourists. Given this, KResearch expects that the number of international tourist arrivals in Thailland will reach roughly 27.6 million in 2023 and around 31 million in 2024. The number of foreign holidaymakers in Thailand may increase further in 2024 if there is a significant rebound in the global economy and new tourism stimulus measures.
        Aside from the efforts in bolstering the number of international tourist arrivals in Thailand, another long-term challenge is to increase the amount of spending per trip. This can be achieved by developing new tourism products and activities that can help add value to Thai tourism over the long- term while also helping attract foreign visitors with high purchasing power. These may include sports, health & medical and gastronomy tourism because Thailand has related advantages. Additionally, efforts should be made to develop quality tourism products, maintain the uniqueness of local culture while preserving natural resources and the environment, as well as safety measures for tourists in order to brace for increased competition in international tourism.

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