Thai Tourism Authority Eyes Asian Expatriates Residing in Laos, Cambodia

TAT Eyes Asian Expatriates Residing in Laos, Cambodia
Chinese tourists at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo: CNBC Travel)

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is looking at attracting Asian expatriates, namely Chinese, South Korean, and Japanese nationals, residing in Laos and Cambodia due to their growing wealth and aspiration to send their children to study in Thailand.

TAT’s marketing representative in Laos and Cambodia, Oranooch Pakapan-Rutten, said Japanese, Korean and Chinese investors in Laos often cross the border and come to Thailand to buy quality products and services in the country. This makes them an attractive target for the Thai tourism market.

As commuting to Thailand from several parts of Laos has become more convenient due to the Laos-China Railway, Oranooch highlighted the importance of Thailand preparing to welcome more visitors traveling to the northeastern parts of Thailand via Laos.

She added that alongside citizens from East Asian countries, Lao and Cambodian people, especially those working in industries benefiting from an influx of foreign investments, could also be counted among “big spenders” in Thailand.

According to the TAT,  Lao people spend an average of THB 31,489 (USD 900) for more than a five-night stay, while Cambodians spend an average of 40,500 (USD 1,159) for the same time period when they are visiting Thailand. The country also saw 330,000 tourists from Laos in the five months of 2023.

To prepare for more visitors, the honorary secretary-general of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, Adith Chairattananon, has asked for the government to consider waiving the visa-on-arrival scheme for Chinese tourists entering through certain land borders.

He said there is an existing demand for Chinese residents in Laos to visit the Thai border town of Udon Thani, and waiving visa payments for trips lasting up to 72 hours would help to further increase the demand.

According to Adith, visitors outside of ASEAN member countries that wish to just take day trips still have to pay the THB 2,000 visa-on-arrival fee, preventing them from extending their visit and spending more money in the country.

Around 50% of Lao tourists traveling to Thailand sought out trips to the country for leisure, while another 20% of Lao people were medical tourists, accounting for two of the top three reasons why Lao people travel to Thailand.

Thailand has set a new record by attracting 12.46 million tourists until June 2023 and is on track to see 25 million tourists by the end of the year, mainly from Malaysia, China, and Russia.