Thailand has waived visa requirements for Indian nationals ahead of the peak season, as the Southeast Asian country seeks to boost tourism following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The visa waiver will begin next month and continue until May 2024, a government official said on Tuesday. Previously, Indians paid 2,200 baht (or ₹5,100) for a visa upon arrival in Thailand.
“Arrivals from India and Taiwan can enter Thailand for 30 days,” government spokesman Chai Wacharonke said.
According to government data, Indian visitors to Thailand rank fourth after Malaysia, China and South Korea.
Visa-free entry for Indian travelers follows Thailand’s removal of visa requirements for Chinese citizens. Earlier this month, the Kingdom allowed Russian citizens to travel visa-free for up to 90 days, until April 2024.
The Thai government is counting on arrivals of foreign tourists to revive its flagging economy. The country’s new Prime Minister, Srettha Thavisin, had earlier said that there were not yet many flights from India due to domestic politics.
To increase tourism after the Covid-19 pandemic, Thailand last year became the first country in Asia to decriminalize cannabis. The Kingdom has legalized the sale of marijuana with certain restrictions. As a result, hundreds of cafes and cannabis stores have sprung up in tourist areas such as Phuket and Koh Samui. However, the country’s new prime minister said in September that his government would rectify its cannabis policy and limit its use for medical purposes within six months.
Sri Lanka last week waived visa fees for Indians in a bid to boost tourism and revive its ailing economy after last year’s economic crisis. Indians account for around 20% of total tourist arrivals in the island nation. The country also approved free visas for tourists from China, Russia, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan and Indonesia.
While Thailand and Sri Lanka have waived visa fees for Indians, Central American country El Salvador is charging passengers from India and Africa an astronomical fee of $1,000 to curb the Illegal immigration to the United States, including VAT (Value Added Tax), additional cost. is $1,130 for travelers from India. Many migrants from Africa and Asia arrive in the United States through El Salvador.
According to the El Salvador Port Authority, people traveling with passports from India or more than 50 African countries will now have to pay these fees, and the funds collected will be allocated to improving the country’s main international airport.