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Visa fee exemption boosts Indian arrivals

BANGKOK: Thailand’s waiver of visa-on-arrival fees is likely to get less attention from Chinese travellers as arrivals from the mainland are still declining.

By Bangkok Post

Tuesday 14 May 2019, 09:04AM

Foreign tourists visit Wat Pho and the Grand Palace. Photo: Pawat Laopaisarntaksin

Foreign tourists visit Wat Pho and the Grand Palace. Photo: Pawat Laopaisarntaksin

Instead, the B2,000 fee exemption that runs from Nov 15, 2018, to Oct 31 this year has given a big boost to India, one of the 21 nations eligible for the exemption.

Arrivals from China in the first quarter this year dropped slightly by 2.1% year-on-year to 3.1 million visitors, compared with a 25% growth in Indian arrivals to 450,000.

For Chinese visitors who came and used the services of members of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta), there was a big drop of 13.6% to 1.05 million visitors during Jan 1 to April 20.

Atta reports an 11% increase of 76,300 visitors from India during the same period.

Chinnarat Chinburi, a committee member of Atta, said the India market has been growing steadily over the past decade, by 5-10% a year thanks to its huge population of some 1.3 billion.

He said the improving economy and growing middle class is driving more Indians to travel abroad.

While first-time visitors is a growth segment, the visa fee exemption, roughly 4,000 to 5,000 rupees, is an attractive tool to draw them here. Furthermore, it helped raise the competitiveness of Thailand among neighbouring countries, said Mr Chinnarat.

Indian tourists also enjoy visiting Myanmar and Vietnam.

Mr Chinnarat, who has over 30 years of experience in the Indian market, said visitors from India can be broken down into three groups: incentives, leisure and wedding.

He said the general election in India, being held from April 11 to May 19, has slowed travel from incentive groups, but they are expected to return in October, the rainy season in India.

Laguna Golf Phuket

However, May is a peak season for Indian leisure travel because of school breaks in most parts of the country.

Family groups often travel at this time and they prefer visiting destinations with direct flights, such as Phuket and Krabi,” said Mr Chinnarat.

Tourists also come for weddings in Thailand, which is another popular segment. Their favourite time of the year for weddings is November to January.

Last year, tourism receipts from the India market totalled B66 billion, a 16% increase from the year before.

Most of their spending went to accommodation, shopping, food and beverages.

To cash in on the market, Mr Chinnarat suggests Thai operators provide products to meet their demand, such as Indian cuisine and vegan food for health-conscious tourists.

Designing short-trip package tours is also necessary as Indian tourists prefer spending just a few days in each town, he said.


Read original story here.



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BenPendejo | 14 May 2019 - 16:51:09

I think most resort operators and hospitality managers would agree that tapping into the India market is hardly a lucrative venture. Indians are notorious for being some of the most challenging tourists...complaining about every little thing followed by requests for discounts and freebies.  Me thinks Thailand is struggling...and chasing their tail as to what to do next. Eritrea market???

Kurt | 14 May 2019 - 09:34:43

Arrivals from China did not drop 'slightly', they dropped a lot! And May month is always a 'Indian arrival month', due to India's school holidays and the very hot period of time in India they like to escape. That whole visa waver thing has no impact at all on tourism. It's a 'nonsense baby' of some Officials.

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