Thailand is taking steps to boost its tourism industry by shortening the visa approval period for Chinese tourists, Thailand’s largest source market which took 20% of total international visitors in 2019. The Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) has urged the Department of Consular Affairs to reduce the visa approval period from up to 15 working days to less than seven days. This move is expected to facilitate tour groups from China that wish to visit Thailand.
Before the Covid-19 outbreak, it took only 3-5 working days to approve Chinese tourists’ visas. However, the current approval period is considered too long and has been a hindrance to the growth of the tourism industry. In response, Thai authorities have announced that they will shorten the entry visa approval period for Chinese tourists.
The Consular Department of Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs will work together with the country’s embassy and consulates in China to optimize entry visa approval procedures. The goal is to ensure that Chinese tourists can get an entry visa within a week.
Thailand has issued a series of policies to facilitate visa approval. For instance, one-stop visa services have been introduced for teams planning to film in the country. The country also plans to improve its electronic visa system by providing multi-language services and data sharing among its different departments. This will ensure safe and fast entry visa approval.
Currently, the electronic visa system can handle five million applications each year. However, starting from 2024, it will be able to handle 15 million applications. This move is expected to boost the number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand.
Thailand aims to meet the goal set by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) of welcoming 5 million Chinese tourists by the end of this year. A short visa application period would also help last-minute tour buyers make a decision to visit Thailand.
The ATTA believes that an overhaul in the visa application period will help boost the number of Chinese tourists in the second half of the year. The association estimates that an average of 600,000 Chinese tourists will visit Thailand per month from June onward. This translates to 3.6 million people for the remainder of the year, enabling Thailand to get closer to its 5-million target.