Thailand waives visa fees for India to reverse downward trend in arrivals

To arrest the continuous decrease in the number of visitors to Thailand (more than 10 per cent over the past three months during the traditional tourist high season), in a desperate move the Thai cabinet has agreed to waive the Baht 2,000 visa-on-arrival (VoA) fee for tourists from 21 countries including India for 60 days to rev up one of the main engines of economic growth. Until January 13, tourists from 20 countries plus Taiwan, whose nationals are already entitled to a visa on arrival, will be able to enjoy the fee waiver. The duration of stay, however, will remain unchanged at 15 days.

Meanwhile, the Thai government also made a deal in Shanghai with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to help promote Thailand as a tourist destination to Chinese people. On November 11, or “11/11” – when Chinese people celebrate ‘Singles Day’ – Alibaba will launch a 20-second video on its web site to encourage Chinese tourists to travel to Thailand. The video is expected to reach as many as 800 million Chinese.

The number of tourists arriving at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, in 2016 and 2017, were 3.1 million and 2.2 million respectively, but from January to September this year, the number had declined to 1.7 million. It is hoped the VoA fee exemption will attract 30 per cent more tourists and help generate more income for the tourism industry and the entire economy.