August 13, 2014 01:00 By SUCHAT SRITAMA THE NATION
Tourism operators serving visitors from Taiwan and mainland China have been advised to prepare for an influx of arrivals during an upcoming 90-day visa-fee exemption.
In a bid to revitalise the tourism industry after the political crisis, the National Council for Peace and Order announced that visa fees would be waived for tourists from those markets.
“Numerous Chinese from the mainland and Taiwan are expected to come to Thailand after the government announced the visa-fee exemption,” said Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents.
He said a lot of tour operators in mainland China and Taiwan had stopped selling packages to Thailand and waited for special offers from the Thai government like this.
He said a typical Chinese tourist travelled with a large group and might require special treats, so operators should prepare in advance.
The scheme had been meant to run from August 1 to October 31 but Sek Wannamethee, director-general of the Department of Information at the Foreign Ministry, said on Friday that it had been delayed and was expected to be start this week.
China has been Thailand’s No 1 source market for years, with about 4 million Chinese visiting the Kingdom last year.
However, international arrivals during first seven months of this year plunged 10 per cent to 13.6 million compared with 14 million for the same period last year as a result of the political instability.
Anuparb Kasensuwan, director-general of the Tourism Department, said that revenue from tourism in general declined 8 percent to Bt630 billion in that period.
Anuparb said it was hoped arrivals would increase in October, the first month of the peak tourism season.
There have signs the sector is recovering, with 1.9 million tourists visiting the country in July – an improvement on recent months.