Thailand is planning to make changes by offering more visas to European tourists and holding cultural festivals to attract international visitors and encourage their spending.
Prommin Lertsuridej, a chief assistant to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, said the Thai government is discussing plans to grant 90-day residence permits to tourists from some European countries. In addition, some 3,000 events such as music concerts, marathons, and other cultural celebrations will be held next year to attract tourists.
Since taking office in August, Srettha has seen the tourism industry as a strategic choice to accelerate Thailand's economic growth. During her tenure, visa requirements were temporarily lifted for tourists from Russia, China, Kazakhstan, India, and Taiwan. She also ordered airlines to expand their routes while streamlining airport operations to reduce waiting times for visitors.
Starting next month, Thailand also plans to allow nightclubs in some areas of Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Chonburi to operate until 4 a.m.
Although the country has lifted most of the pandemic visitation restrictions, tourism officials note that average spending per tourist is still well below pre-Zika levels and not in line with official estimates.
In 2019, Thailand recorded nearly 40 million foreign tourist arrivals, generating a record revenue of 1.91 trillion baht (about $53.7 billion). That year, each tourist spent an average of 47,895 baht on a nine-day trip.
Meanwhile, as of November 12, Thailand had received the arrival of 23.2 million foreign tourists, generating revenue of 981.7 billion baht, a decline of about 12 percent compared to the average spending per trip in 2019.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand has set a target to bring foreign tourism revenue back to the level it was at before the Zika virus pandemic, aiming for at least 2 trillion baht by 2024.
In early November, Srettha announced the Winter Festival, which includes festivals such as Loi Krathong, the Bangkok Marathon and New Year celebrations. The series of events is designed to showcase Thailand's rich culture and attract tourists during the busy November-January period.