In a move aimed at stimulating tourism during the peak travel season, Thailand is extending a warm welcome to Russian tourists. According to Tourism Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol, starting in November, Russian citizens will be able to visit Thailand without the need for a visa, and they can stay in the country for up to 90 days, a significant increase from the previous 30-day limit. This visa-free privilege will be available from November 1 to April 30 2024, providing Russian tourists with a longer window to explore the wonders of Thailand.
As of August, Thailand had already seen 923,113 visitors from Russia, ranking them fifth among international tourists, following Malaysia, China, South Korea, and India, as per data from the Tourism and Sports Ministry. In 2019, before the pandemic, approximately 1.5 million Russians flocked to Thailand and contributed around $3.3 billion to the country’s economy, making them the third-largest spending group among tourists, based on official statistics.
Thailand is banking on the resurgence of foreign tourist arrivals to drive economic growth. However, a recent shooting incident at a shopping mall in Bangkok has raised concerns about the country’s appeal to Chinese visitors, who, like Russians, can enter Thailand without prior visa applications. Despite the incident, Thailand remains a popular destination, with approximately 590,000 Chinese travelers still holding confirmed flight and hotel bookings as of October 14, though this number has slightly decreased from the 650,000 bookings registered before the incident, according to Government Spokesman Chai Wacharonke. Overall, Thailand is anticipating a significant boost in tourism, with projections indicating the arrival of up to 30 million tourists this year, more than doubling the 2022 figure.