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Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister has announced plans to extend the current free visa incentives for foreign tourists by another three months.
The move is aimed at giving Thailand’s tourism industry a much needed boost as it heads into what is traditionally the low season, as well as helping the industry cope with the sudden decrease in arrivals from China following last year’s crackdown on zero dollar tours.
Speaking at the Asean Tourism Forum 2017 in Singapore, Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, said she would propose extending the visa offer at a Cabinet meeting next Tuesday.
In September, Thailand launched its crackdown on zero dollar tours, which resulted in a huge drop in tourist arrivals from China.
Previous figures released from TAT for November revealed that the number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand had plummeted by 30 percent. The situation is said to have improved slightly but Chinese arrivals are still expected to be down by 13 percent for January.
In order to try and make up the shortfall left by visitors from China, the cabinet announced in November that the visa on arrival fee would be halved to 1,000 baht for the 19 eligible nations from December 1st to February 28th 2017.
During the same period, Thailand also announced it was waiving 1,000 baht fee for a single entry tourist visa for all nationalities.
Mrs Kobkarn told the Bangkok Post the visa incentive had helped to boost tourist arrivals in December and that between January 1st to 20th, 1.8 million international tourists arrived in Thailand, which is a 6 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
Meanwhile, TAT Governor Dr Yuthasak Supasorn said he expects more visitors from ASEAN as Thailand is promoted as a weekend or short trip tourist destination to independent travellers within the region.
Dr Yuthasak added that these tourists spend an average 5,244 baht per person per day or 29,580 baht per trip, Daily News reported.