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Tourism authorities eye 60-day visa exemption for Europeans

The Tourism and Sports Ministry is planning to propose to the Cabinet that the visa exemption period for visitors from over 50 countries be extended from 30 days to 60 days.

The measure would help further boost the tourism industry on top of the visa-free policy currently granted to visitors from China and Kazakhstan for five months, or until February 2024, minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol said on Monday.

In the first phase, the extension will cover mainly countries in and around Europe such as the UK, Germany, Scandinavian nations, and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which include Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

“The visa-free policy has provided unprecedented opportunity for Thailand to attract foreign tourists,” she said. “The ministry together with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) are discussing plans to extend the visa waiver period to European countries, from where most high- spending visitors come, in a bid to motivate them to stay in Thailand longer."

Sudawan added that European visitors make up about 20% of foreign tourists and are the second largest group after visitors from Asia. Last year the average stay period among Europeans was 18.55 nights per person with average spending of 66,000 baht per trip.

“This year, the spending among European visitors shows a rising trend to around 80,000 baht per trip,” she said.

The TAT has set a target revenue from foreign visitors at 2.5 billion baht in 2024, while Thai tourists will contribute another 1 trillion baht to the industry, making up a total 3.5 trillion baht of tourism revenue next year.

“We aim to further increase revenue from foreign visitors in 2025 to 3 trillion baht,” said Sudawan. “This is achievable as the airline industry worldwide is expected to have fully recovered by mid-2024, restoring flights from European countries to Thailand.”

Earlier this month, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) reopened the Copenhagen-Bangkok route after a 10-year hiatus, revitalising Thailand’s hopes of penetrating the long-haul tourism market from Scandinavia.

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