BANGKOK, 30 November 2016: Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports reports international visits exceeded 27.07 million, an improvement of 11.27% during January to October this year.
Released Tuesday, the ministry’s data showed the country attracted 27,076,308 international visits during the first 10 months of this year, compared to 24,332,817 visits during the same period last year.
The data is based on foreign passport, or ID holders, passing through international checkpoints (land, sea and air).
Tourism and Sports Minister, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, said Thailand is striving to become a quality leisure destination and is currently engaging in a clampdown on illegal zero-dollar tours to achieve that goal.
For the first 10 months of this year, China generated the most revenue at THB391,507 million followed by Malaysia (THB74,804 million) and Russia (THB64,328 million).
Other major markets on the revenue circulation chart were: United Kingdom (THB60,932 million); United States (THB53,796 million); Australia (THB53,083 million); South Korea (THB52,579 million); Japan (THB50,518 million); India (THB45,451 million); and Germany (THB42,995 million).
The minister added that the government’s decision to waive visa fees for tourists from 19 nations would help to boost the country’s tourism sector during high season period.
The Thai Cabinet approved the plan, last week, which will waive visa fees for tourists from 19 nations, 1 December to 28 February, next year.
The 19 nations eligible for the visa-fee waiver comprise of Andorra, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
India, China and Saudi Arabia are three markets that should benefit the most from the free visa privilege.
Some travel companies contacted TTR Weekly to complain claiming the scheme should have accommodated travellers, who live in countries that have direct airline links with Thailand. They claimed some of the nations, such as Andorra and Malta, are irrelevant as far as building tourist volume is concerned.
Iran is not on the list even though Thailand’s national airline THAI has started nonstop services. Agents said the scheme would have supported this new service.
According to the scheme, citizens from the 19 countries do not need to pay THB1,000 fee to process a visa at Thai embassies or consular offices.
The visa-on-arrival fee that was increased to THB2,000, , 27 September, was also reduced to THB1,000 for citizens of the 19 countries. The visa-on-arrival is valid for 15 days.
In addition, a 10-year visas for foreign residents 50 years should help to encourage Thailand’s tourism industry, she added.
Once the 10-year visa is up and running it will give a boost to the long-stay and retiree tourism market.
However, full details including the cost and actual introduction date are still pending.
In October, foreign travellers recorded 2,256,126 visits up 0.46% from 2,245,841 visits during the same month last year.
By regions, all markets recorded increases in the 10th month of the year except East Asia and the Oceania.
The Middle East recorded the highest growth of 29.41% from 47,007 to 60,833 visits.
Israel posted the highest arrivals with 21,921 visits increasing 166.97% from 8,211 visits.
Other main markets in the Middle East: United Arab Emirates (6,890; -14.44%); Kuwait (3,069; -26.53%); Egypt (2,089; +4.92%) and Saudi Arabia (1,380; +11.11%).
Europe posted an increase of 10.66% from 404,808 to 447,962 visits. The markets that showed improvements were: Russia (+30.34%); Germany (+17.41%); East Europe (+13.48%); Belgium (+13.00%); Austria (+12.85%); Switzerland (+11.48%); France (+10.69%); Spain (+8.28%); Italy (+3.06%); Netherland (+2.97%); Denmark (+2.00%); and United Kingdom (+0.46%).
The markets that showed declines were: Sweden (-12.56%); Finland (-10.88%); and Norway (-6.44%).
The Americas increased 8.19% from 98,434 to 106,492 visits. The United States recorded the highest arrivals at 73,524 up 4.04% from 70,667 followed by Canada (17,548; +3.45%), Brazil (5,731; +56.07%) and Argentina (2,960; +55.38%).
Africa showed an improvement of 2.10% from 13,608 to 13,894 visits. The main market South Africa increased 6.59% from 6,650 to 7,088.
South Asia represented a slightly increase of 0.06% from 117,643 to 117,710 visits. India led the field supplying 90,202 visits growing 0.97% from 89,339 followed by Bangladesh (8,844; -1.05%), Pakistan (6,298; +0.06%), Nepal (4,965; +26.79%) and Sri Lanka (4,285; -33.33%).
In contrast, East Asia (ASEAN included) decreased 3.38% from 1,482,025 to 1,431,952 visits.
The markets that showed declines were: China (-16.22%); South Korea (-8.77%); Taiwan (-4.96%); Cambodia (-1.34%); and Brunei (-0.11%).
The markets that showed improvements were: Hong Kong (+24.92%); Laos (+11.20%); Indonesia (+10.47%); Myanmar (+9.54%); the Philippines (+8.00%); Malaysia (+7.58%); Japan (+2.47%); Vietnam (+1.06%); and Singapore (+0.88%).