Thailand’s tourism industry is set to exceed the 2.4 trillion Baht (US$68.57 billion) target set for 2016 thanks to the drive to boost visitor numbers with visa fee waivers and a raft of measures to assure tourists that they will enjoy high quality experiences in the kingdom.
H.E. Mrs. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports said, “Over the past years, we have seen a strong growth in tourism revenue and this is not just because numbers are up: tourists are also spending more money, particularly high-end visitors. High quality tourists visit Thailand knowing that they can find affordable luxury experiences and high-end products and activities that can’t be enjoyed elsewhere.”
Tourist arrivals from January to October 2016, totalled 28.72 million tourists who have so far spent 1.43 trillion Baht (US$40.8 billion), representing a year-on-year increase of 10.38 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively. China remains the number one market with spending of over 391.5 billion Baht (US$11.2 billion). Malaysia made up the second largest market for spending with 74.8 billion Baht (US$2.14 billion), and Russia was in third place with tourists spending almost 64.33 billion baht (US$1.80 billion).
Mrs. Kobkarn said, “With Thailand now in its traditional high season, we are working to boost numbers of visitors for the last quarter of the year, from traditionally 8.8 million to 9.1 million visitors, or a four per cent growth. But we are hoping for a higher growth in revenue, at six per cent, from almost 455 billion to 483.7 billion Baht (US$13 billion to US$13.8 billion). With this goal, various initiatives have been put in place to encourage tourists to visit and spend.”
These initiatives have included the waiver of tourist visa fees for visitors from 19 countries from 1 December, 2016, to 28 February, 2017, and the price of visas issued on arrival will be halved. To encourage health and medical tourism, long-stay visas for foreigners over 50 years of age will be extended from one to 10 years.
To encourage more domestic travel, a long New Year holiday of four days including 31 December, 2016, and 1 to 3 January, 2017, has been confirmed. As well as special New Year Countdowns across the kingdom on 31 December, there are a range of sporting events planned including the Bangkok and Chiang Mai Marathons.
In addition, there will be a range of new events and activities to boost travel. These include the Thailand Yacht Show 2016, from 15-18 December in Phuket, the “70 Routes in His Majesty’s Footsteps” campaign that encourages domestic travel in areas boosted by the work of the late King, and the “First Step towards the Great Nine”, which aims to open up Royal Projects and Royal Initiatives, so that international tourists can visit and learn about the late King’s work.
Meanwhile, the Thailand Friendly Design Expo 2016 to be held in Bangkok from 30 November – 3 December will introduce eight routes for ‘Universal Access for All’ in each of the country’s eight major regions specifically designed to cater to the needs of travellers with special needs.