Visa-Free Policy to Boost Tourism
Phuket’s tourism authorities are eagerly preparing to welcome an influx of tourists from China and Kazakhstan, thanks to a new visa-free policy set to be implemented next week. This policy allows easier entry and 30-day visa-free stays for nationals of both countries and will be effective from Monday until February 29th.
A welcome ceremony for the first set of tourists arriving on visa-free flights has been planned, with the deputy governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and a representative of the TAT’s office in Phuket in attendance.
Anticipated Benefits for Phuket Tourism Industry
The island is expected to see a significant increase in tourists from both countries, particularly from China, due to the eased travel conditions. This is likely to lead to more effortless trip planning for potential visitors. The hospitality industry in Phuket has ample space to accommodate the anticipated influx of tourists.
Chinese tourist arrivals have already rebounded to 30% of pre-pandemic levels, and this new policy is expected to further aid the industry’s recovery. An improved hotel reservation rate has been observed in the first week of this month, as tourism transitions to the high season, fueled by the island’s vegetarian festival.
Phuket Tourist Association president Thaneth Tantipiriyakij predicts that the recovery rate could double with the visa-free policy. Moreover, higher ticket prices might attract better-quality Chinese tourists to the island.
Government Cooperation and Competition with Vietnam
Increased cooperation between the Chinese and Thai governments is anticipated, especially through a government-to-government (G2G) plan to boost tourism on the island. However, there is potential competition from Vietnam, which has implemented a similar visa-free scheme and direct flights between Kazakhstan and Vietnam, provided by Vietnamese carriers.
The TAT initially expected 250,000 Kazakh tourists this year, but there is a possibility that they may choose Vietnam over Phuket due to these travel conveniences.
The new visa-free policy for Chinese and Kazakh tourists is poised to significantly benefit Phuket’s tourism industry. With the island ready to accommodate the expected increase in visitors, it’s an exciting time for businesses and travelers alike.