Thailand will allow Russian citizens to visit for longer periods in a bid to boost tourism during peak travel season, a government minister said.
Starting from November, Russian visitors may enter Thailand visa-free and remain in the country for a maximum of 90 days, up from the current 30 days, until the end of April 2024, Tourism Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol told reporters in Bangkok.
923,113 Russians visited Thailand in the year to August, ranked fifth behind visitors from Malaysia, China, South Korea and India, according to data from the Tourism and Sports Ministry. Some 1.5 million Russians travelled to Thailand in pre-pandemic 2019 and spent about $3.3 billion, making them the third-largest spenders, according to official data.
The government is counting on foreign tourist arrivals to increase economic growth, though a recent shooting incident in a Bangkok shopping mall may have dented the country’s appeal to Chinese visitors, who may also enter without first applying for visas.
About 590,000 Chinese travellers still had confirmed flight and hotel bookings to Thailand as of Oct 14, down from the 650,000 registered before the shooting, according to government spokesman Chai Wacharonke. Overall, Thailand is forecast to receive up to 30 million tourists this year, more than double the total in 2022.