In a significant decision during the Cabinet meeting on October 16, 2023, the Thai government has greenlit an extension for Russian tourists’ temporary stay, elongating the duration from the current 30 days to a generous 90-day period. Commencing from November 1, 2023, and lasting until April 30, 2024, this move is aimed at promoting tourism by catering to Russian visitors seeking respite from the frigid winters prevalent in their homeland, which typically endure from December to March.
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, welcoming this strategic expansion, articulated that this initiative aligns with efforts to enhance Thailand’s tourism prospects. The move is tailored to encourage longer stays, allowing tourists to experience the vibrant and diverse offerings of the country, especially during the extended winter season in Russia.
Acknowledging the seasonal shift and the desire to accommodate a prolonged tourist influx, the Prime Minister expressed his optimism about the positive impact this adjustment would have. He also highlighted an upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, emphasizing the importance of fostering stronger ties and engagement between the two nations. The Prime Minister underscored that this change is a gesture of goodwill, demonstrating the harmonious relations that Thailand wishes to nurture.
Anutin Charnvirakul, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, emphasized the priority placed on ensuring tourist safety throughout this policy alteration. He reiterated the significance of stringent monitoring to differentiate between genuine tourists and those who might overstay their visas, thereby maintaining the integrity of the initiative.
According to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Russian tourists are positioned fifth in terms of international visitors to Thailand from January 1 to October 1, 2023, with an impressive count of 994,431 individuals. Leading the ranks are Malaysia with 3,280,622 visitors, China with 2,509,698, South Korea with 1,197,763, and India with 1,165,935. The cumulative tally of international tourists crossing into the country stands at a substantial 20,051,535.
This adjustment comes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a period that saw a notable decline in global tourism. Prior to this global health crisis, Thailand experienced a significant influx of Russian tourists, securing the highest European tourist count at 1.48 million individuals in the year 2019. The government’s proactive measures are aimed at reinvigorating this vital sector and strengthening international partnerships.