Up to now, no country in Southeast Asia has exempted visas for visitors from China or India or both like Thailand has just implemented. After only 1 month of taking office, the new government of Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin discussed visa exemption for Chinese visitors and in just 1 month, this program was applied. Right after China, Thailand waives visas for Indian and Taiwanese visitors. Not stopping there, believing that visa exemption is not enough to increase tourist arrivals and boost spending, Thailand is considering increasing the stay period for about 50 countries and territories on the visa exemption list. real.
Specifically, the Thai Ministry of Tourism and Sports is planning to propose to the Cabinet to expand the visa exemption policy for visitors from more than 50 countries by extending the stay period from 30 to 90 days. Thailand’s “right and successful” visa exemption policy is considered to be the key to the success of tourism in this country, lasting for decades. Especially in the post-Covid-19 period, Thailand’s new and groundbreaking visa policies have helped Thai tourism accelerate, continuing to outpace regional competitors, including Vietnam.
As of mid-November, Thailand welcomed more than 23.4 million international visitors, earning nearly 28 billion USD. Thailand’s top 5 international tourist markets include Malaysia (more than 3.8 million arrivals), China (2.9 million arrivals), Korea (nearly 1.4 million arrivals), India (1.35 million arrivals). ) and Russia (nearly 1.2 million).
Meanwhile, Vietnam welcomed nearly 10 million international visitors in the past 10 months, on par with Singapore and Indonesia and behind Malaysia (more than 13 million). Other Southeast Asian destinations such as the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos reached around 4 million… Vietnam’s largest tourist markets include Korea (2.9 million), China (1.3 million), Taiwan (660,000 visits), America (590,000 visits), Japan (460,000 visits).
Thailand currently waives visas for citizens of 68 countries and territories, with the 4 newest names just added to the list: China, India, Kazakhstan and Taiwan. Thailand’s visa exemption list notably includes all 27 countries in the European Union (EU); In addition, this country also waives visas for tourists from the US and Australia… These are major source markets in the world.
Vietnam has also made positive changes in simplifying visa application procedures (all tourists from around the world entering Vietnam can get an e-Visa), increasing the length of stay for both e-Visa guests ( from 30 to 90 days) and visa exemption (from 15 to 45 days) from July 2023. In addition, Vietnam currently exempts visas for citizens of 25 countries and territories, compared to Thailand, which is a huge difference (68). For the EU, Vietnam exempts visas for 7 member countries: Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.
Last July, the European Business Association in Vietnam (EuroCham) sent a letter to Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh proposing to expand the list of visa-free travel for 27 EU member countries. Meanwhile, many years ago, Thailand “cleared” visas for the EU tourist market. Not to mention, not only the EU, but most of the remaining tourist markets where Thailand waives visas are very important, ensuring the ability to provide a large number of tourists every year. Most recently, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung also proposed visa exemption for tourists from China and India.
Thai Tourism Minister Sudawan Wangsupakijkosol said that measures to increase the length of stay for tourists from visa-exempt markets will help promote the effectiveness of this policy, especially visitors from China and Kazakhstan. Just received visa exemption for 5 months, lasting until February 2024.
In the first phase, the increase in length of stay will include mainly countries in and around Europe such as the UK, Germany, Scandinavian countries and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), including including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
“The visa exemption policy has brought unprecedented opportunities for Thailand to attract foreign tourists,” she said. The ministry along with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is discussing a plan to extend the period. visa exemption to European countries, where most high-spending tourists are located, to encourage them to stay longer in Thailand.”
Ms. Sudawan added that European tourists account for about 20% of foreign tourists and are the second largest group after tourists from Asia. Last year, the average length of stay for Europeans was 18.55 nights per person with an average spend of 66,000 baht per trip.
“This year, spending by European tourists tends to increase to about 80,000 baht per trip.”
TAT has set a revenue target from foreign tourists of 2.5 billion baht by 2024, while Thai tourists will contribute an additional 1,000 billion baht to the industry, creating a total tourism revenue of 3,500 billion baht by 2024. next year.
Sudawan said: “We aim to further increase revenue from foreign tourists by 2025 to 3,000 billion baht. This is achievable as the aviation industry worldwide is expected to fully recover by mid-2024, restore flights from European countries to Thailand.”
Since taking office in August, Prime Minister Srettha has identified tourism as key to boosting Thailand’s economic growth.
In addition to quickly waiving visas for major tourist markets, Thailand also requires airlines to add more flight routes and streamline airport operations to reduce waiting time for tourists.
In particular, the Thai government also plans to allow nightlife venues in some areas in Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Chonburi to operate until 4 a.m. starting from next December.
Countries in Southeast Asia are similar in terms of natural resources as well as historical heritage; possessing equal cultural and culinary values, but only the country that is “faster” and more flexible in its policies, especially visas, can put tourism ahead and leave its competitors far behind. remaining.
Visa procedures are slow, Vietnam loses customers to Thailand…
According to the Department of Tourism of Ho Chi Minh City, the visa bottleneck has been opened when implementing electronic visas in all markets, but in reality, documents and procedures related to visa approval are still slow and not really clear, taking a lot of time. time to complete the procedure.
Meanwhile, the number of countries eligible for visa exemption from Vietnam is still too low compared to other countries in Southeast Asia.
The above factors lead to the number of visitors from key markets, new and potential markets still costing high costs and taking a lot of time to get approval procedures. Therefore, tourists and partners gradually move to other markets that compete directly with Vietnam in the tourism sector such as Thailand and Singapore.
The Department therefore recommends that the Immigration Department (Ministry of Public Security) shorten the time to process visa applications for groups of travel businesses (in the direct form).