Thailand to Expand Visa-Free Travel Program, Eyes Boost in Tourism from More Countries

Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin unveiled ambitious plans to broaden the scope of the nation’s visa-free travel program, extending its reach to encompass citizens from a multitude of countries. This announcement comes in the wake of recent initiatives where Thailand waived visa requirements for travelers from China and India, with the overarching goal of revitalizing tourism, a cornerstone of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy.

The prime minister underscored the profound impact of the visa waiver for Chinese nationals on the economy, citing a substantial upswing resulting from heightened tourism activity. While celebrating the success of these initial measures, Thavisin articulated intentions to confer similar privileges upon citizens of numerous additional countries, although specific details regarding the expansion were not disclosed.

“Not just for China, we’ll continue to do this with several more countries,” Thavisin affirmed.

Statistics paint a vivid picture of the positive outcomes stemming from these initiatives, with Thailand experiencing a remarkable surge in foreign tourist arrivals. From January 1 to February 11, the country welcomed a staggering 4.39 million international visitors, marking an impressive 48% increase compared to the corresponding period the previous year. Among these arrivals, tourists from China emerged as the primary source market, underlining the efficacy of the visa waiver policy.

Buoyed by this momentum, the Thai government anticipates a substantial rise in foreign visitor numbers for the year 2024, projecting figures between 34 to 35 million, a notable upturn from the approximately 28 million recorded in the preceding year. This forecast underscores the nation’s steadfast determination to not only recover but surpass pre-pandemic tourism levels, which peaked at nearly 40 million foreign visitors in 2019.

As Thailand charts a course towards revitalizing its tourism sector and fostering sustainable economic growth, the expansion of the visa-free travel program stands as a testament to the country’s commitment to welcoming visitors from around the globe with open arms.