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Thailand, Kazakhstan Sticker Visa Waiver Deal to Boost Tourism

Thailand and Kazakhstan to Sign Permanent Visa Waiver Agreement, Boosting Tourism Recovery Effort Thailand is set to ink a bilateral visa waiver deal with Kazakhstan next week, marking a significant move aimed at reviving tourism levels to pre-Covid standards. The decision comes as part of Thailand's concerted efforts to attract foreign visitors back to its shores.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin's cabinet greenlit the visa exemption proposal on Thursday, with plans for the official signing during the upcoming visit of Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Murat Nurtleu to Bangkok on April 23. Thai government spokesman Chai Wacharonke confirmed the development, underscoring the importance of this agreement in fostering bilateral tourism ties.

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As per the terms of the agreement, travelers from Kazakhstan will enjoy visa-free stays in Thailand for a maximum duration of 30 days per visit, with the flexibility of extending their stay up to 90 days within any 180-day period. Similarly, Thai travelers heading to Kazakhstan will adhere to equivalent visa regulations, ensuring reciprocity in travel arrangements.

Implementation of the visa waiver program is contingent upon the finalization of internal procedures within both countries, with a grace period of 30 days granted after confirmation to enforce the agreement, according to Chai.

Thailand has already observed a significant uptick in tourist arrivals from Kazakhstan following the introduction of a temporary visa waiver program last September, subsequently extended until August. The positive response underscores the potential for further growth in bilateral tourism cooperation.

In line with its broader tourism recovery strategy, Thailand has witnessed a notable surge of over 40% in foreign tourist arrivals this year, totaling approximately 11 million visitors. Factors contributing to this resurgence include the country's visa waiver initiatives and streamlined travel protocols, which have attracted travelers from diverse global destinations.

Among the top contributors to Thailand's tourism resurgence are Chinese tourists, with around 2 million arrivals, followed by visitors from Malaysia, Russia, South Korea, and India, according to data from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

With the tourism sector constituting a significant 12% of Thailand's GDP, the country remains steadfast in its ambition to welcome 35 to 40 million foreign tourists this year, nearing the pre-pandemic record of 40 million visitors in 2019. In alignment with this goal, the government aims to generate 1.8 trillion baht ($49 billion) in revenue from foreign tourist arrivals, reflecting its commitment to revitalizing the economy and restoring the vibrancy of Thailand's tourism landscape.

Preliminary official data indicates that between January 1 and April 14, Thailand accrued tourism earnings totaling 518 billion baht, underscoring the sector's critical role in driving economic recovery efforts.

April 22, 2024 1:32 p.m. 4353

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