BANGKOK, THAILAND — Thailand will offer visa-free entry to tourists from India and Taiwan, the prime minister announced Tuesday, as the government seeks to rebuild the key tourism sector after it was battered by the pandemic.
Indian and Taiwanese visitors will be entitled to stay for up to 30 days under the six-month trial, which will start next month.
Thailand’s tourism sector accounts for almost 20 percent of overall GDP, but it has struggled to get back on its feet since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will provide visa-free entry to India and Taiwan because a lot of their people like to travel to Thailand,” Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting.
Until now, tourists from India and Taiwan have had to apply for a 15-day visa-on-arrival at immigration checkpoints, presenting a bank statement and proof of accommodation.
The move comes after the government opened a similar visa-free scheme for Chinese tourists in September.
Government spokesman Chai Watcharong said authorities hoped the scheme would attract 1.4 million extra tourists, generating an additional 55 billion baht (US$1.5 billion) in income.
About 1.2 million Indians visited Thailand in the first nine months of 2023 according to tourism ministry data — the fourth highest number after Malaysia, China and South Korea.
Srettha, who took power in August following months of political wrangling after a May election, has said boosting the tourism sector and stimulating the economy are among his top priorities.
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