The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) as announced that the Royal Thai Government has approved the extension of the visa-on-arrival fee waiver for citizens of 20 countries until 30 April.
The decision was announced in the Royal Thai Government Gazette on 11 January, reasoning it as a measure to stimulate and promote tourism as well as to enhance the kingdom’s attractiveness among foreign visitors during the high travel season.
Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said the continuation of the stimulus visa-on-arrival measure came at a perfect time as Thailand is set to celebrate Chinese New Year in February and the Thai New Year (Songkran) in April.
List of countries eligible for the visa-on-arrival fee waiver until 30 April
Citizens of Andora, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China including Taiwan, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan will be exempted from the 2,000 Baht visa-on-arrival fee for the purpose of touring in Thailand for not more than 15 days.
Chinese New Year celebrations are huge in Thailand, and this year will mark the 15th anniversary of cooperation between TAT, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic or China, and the Chinese Embassy in organising annual Lunar New Year festivities in Thailand. This year’s date falls on 5 February.
More than 10 million Chinese tourists in 2018
During the summer, and the following months of September and October, the number of tourists from China had dropped significantly, due to a boat tragedy in Phuket which killed more than 45 people, mostly Chinese,
But according to the latest estimations the number of Chinese tourists has picked up and is to be significantly higher than 10 million in 2018, a 7% increase from last year.
Mr. Yuthasak said: “This year, the Chinese New Year official opening ceremony will be held at Siam Square, one of the most popular shopping areas in Bangkok. We aim to attract more of the younger generation to enjoy the traditional performances.”
Every year, China sends over 100 traditional Chinese dancers and musicians, martial artists, Chinese opera performers and acrobats from several cities in a cultural exchange. In addition to the opening ceremony, typically held at Bangkok’s Yaowarat (China Town), performances are also held in key cities around Thailand where Chinese New Year is celebrated in grand style. In return, TAT organises education tours of Thailand for the performers.
For the Thai New Year (Songkran), TAT will continue its strategy to promote Thai traditions and cultural values, the core part of almost all traditional events and festivals in Thailand, according to Mr. Yuthasak.
“As usual, TAT will provide support to the organising of Songkran celebrations in various destinations throughout the kingdom.”
The Songkran Festival, 13-15 April, is an event where boisterous fun and ancient traditions go hand-in-hand. For tourists, the event offers a chance to enjoy a huge celebration where water parties break out in the streets of Thailand’s towns and villages. For locals, it is a time when they can spend precious moments with their families and visit the temples to observe ancient rites and make merit.
Other notable events and festivals scheduled during the period include the World Wai Kru Muay Thai Ceremony on 17 March in Ayutthaya and the uniquely local Poi Sang Long Festival (held during March or April) in the northern province of Mae Hong Son.
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