Thailand Extends Visa Exemption for Indian Tourists Amid Climate Challenges

Thailand extends its 30-day visa exemption program for Indian tourists until November 11, 2024, to boost tourism and economic growth. The move aims to attract 1.55 million Indian visitors and 700,000 Taiwanese tourists this year.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Thailand Extends Visa Exemption for Indian Tourists Amid Climate Challenges

Thailand Extends Visa Exemption for Indian Tourists Amid Climate Challenges

Thailand has extended its 30-day visa exemption program for Indian tourists until November 11, 2024, in a move to boost tourism and economic growth. The decision, reported by Bloomberg, allows Indian travelers to visit Thailand without obtaining a visa, making it easier for them to explore the country.

The visa exemption program aims to attract more Indian visitors to Thailand, which is one of the most popular tourist destinations among Indians. The Thai government expects the extension to bring in 1.55 million tourists from India and 700,000 visitors from Taiwan this year. Indian visitors spend an average of 41,000 baht per trip to Thailand, while Taiwanese tourists spend around 43,000 baht per trip.

Why this matters: The extension of the visa exemption program has significant implications for Thailand's economy, as tourism is a major contributor to the country's GDP. Furthermore, the move also highlights the importance of balancing economic growth with environmental concerns, as Thailand's popular tourist destinations face the challenges of climate change and coral bleaching.

The government's visa exemption policy was first introduced in September last year for visitors from China and Kazakhstan, and later extended to include Indian and Taiwanese visitors in November. The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects foreign arrivals to reach 35 million people this year, generating 3.5 trillion baht in revenue for the Thai economy.

While Bangkok is a well-known destination,Thailand offers a range of experiences beyond its capital city. Some of these experiences can be found in cities like Chiang Mai, known for its ancient temples, bustling markets, and delicious cuisine.

However, this development comes at a time when popular Thai islands like Koh Phi Phi, Koh Samui, and Pling Island are facing challenges due to climate change and the El Niño event, which have resulted in water shortages and coral bleaching. A survey conducted by officials from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) on May 9, 2024, revealed that approximately 10% of corals showed decoloration and 30% had faded colors in the areas of Koh Khai Nok and Koh Khai Nai, while 40% of corals had faded colors in other areas, with no bleached corals found.

The affected coral species included mushroom corals (Cycloseris spp.) , rock corals (Porites lutea), and staghorn corals (Acropora spp.), which showed decoloration, and cauliflower corals (Pocillopora spp.), mushroom corals (Cycloseris spp.), rock corals (Porites lutea), and staghorn corals (Acropora spp.), which had faded colors. The inspection was conducted a day after the Sirinat National Park announced the temporary closure of Koh Pling and the surrounding reefs to visitors due to coral bleaching. The closure, effective immediately, did not specify a reopening date for Koh Pling, with the park chief stating that the small island off Nai Yang Beach will remain closed"until the situation improves."

Despite these challenges, Thailand remains a popular tourist destination, and the visa exemption program is expected to give a boost to its tourism industry. The extension of the visa-waiver policy until November 11, 2024, demonstrates the Thai government's commitment to ensuring a continuous flow of foreign arrivals into the country and supporting its economic recovery.