Thailand anticipates foreign arrivals surge during Chinese New Year
Thailand anticipates foreign arrivals surge during Chinese New YearLegacy

A considerable surge in foreign arrivals is anticipated in Thailand during the Chinese New Year holiday, as reported by the Airports of Thailand (AOT). Kirati Kijmanawat, the AOT director, announced yesterday, February 6, that passenger numbers flying into Thailand are predicted to experience a 206% leap, compared to the same time last year. This comes in the wake of the country’s complete reopening to international travellers.

Kirati acknowledged the boost provided to the industry by the government’s visa-free policy for tourists from several countries, including China. He detailed the current visa regulations allowing visitors from Kazakhstan and China to stay for 30 days without a visa until February 29. He further highlighted the 90-day visa-free stay for Russian passport holders until April 30, and the 30-day stays for Indian and Taiwanese tourists until May 10.

He also pointed to the agreement signed between Thailand and China on January 28, focusing on a reciprocal visa-free scheme set to take effect from March 1. This agreement grants holders of valid, ordinary Thai passports, and Chinese holders of passports for public affairs and ordinary passports, exemption from visa requirements for entering, exiting or transiting the other country for up to 30 days.

Kirati also mentioned the installation of self-check-in kiosks at AOT’s six international airports: Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, and Chiang Rai. These facilities allow passengers to check in up to six hours in advance, with Suvarnabhumi boasting 210 self-check-in kiosks and Don Mueang hosting 50. He emphasised that these services enable passengers to save time and evade long queues as the process only takes a few minutes.

He indicated that approximately 17% of passengers utilise the self-check-in system and AOT has plans to increase this figure to 50%.

On Monday, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, paid an unexpected visit to Suvarnabhumi Airport, instructing officials to hasten immigration and baggage claim procedures for travellers. Later, the 61 year old Thai PM posted a message on Twitter advocating that passengers should spend no more than 30 minutes passing through immigration and should also experience less waiting time to collect their luggage.

This visit precedes planned upgrades to airports and the aviation sector across the country, set to commence in March, reported Bangkok Post.

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Author: Mitch Connor