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Thailand will exempt visa requirements for travelers from India and Taiwan for six months ahead of the year-end holiday period, the latest push by the Southeast Asian nation to boost tourist arrivals and prop up its sluggish economy.
Tourists from India and Taiwan will be able to enter Thailand without a visa between Nov. 10 and May 10 and stay for a maximum of 30 days at a time, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
Indian and Taiwanese tourists are normally eligible to stay in Thailand for 15 days under a visa-on-arrival scheme. Previously, the country had waived visa requirements for travelers from China and Kazakhstan for five months until Feb. 29, with an extension of stay for Russian tourists to 90 days starting Wednesday through to April next year.
The visa waiver is aimed at accelerating the return of holidaymakers to restore Thailand’s tourism revenue back to pre-Covid levels. The country has welcomed about 22 million foreign tourists so far this year — more than half of the pre-pandemic record of almost 40 million — with as many as 28 million expected by year-end.
The number of Indian tourist arrivals are expected to reach 1.55 million by the end of the year, government spokesman Chai Wacharonke said in a statement. It has already seen arrivals from the South Asian nation more than double to 1.16 million between January and September from a year earlier, official data show.
Travelers from Malaysia have topped the list of tourists this year at 3.62 million, followed by Chinese tourists — the largest group of visitors to Thailand before the pandemic — at 2.76 million as of Oct. 29, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects the number of Chinese tourists to reach 4 to 4.4 million in 2023.
--With assistance from Anuchit Nguyen.
(Updates with length of stay, context from second paragraph.)
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