In a recent milestone, Thailand officially overthrew Dubai as the preferred travel destination for Indian tourists, marking a significant milestone in the realm of global tourism.
This shift in preference comes in the wake of Thailand’s decision to ease visa restrictions for Indian travelers starting 10 November 2023 until 10 May this year, making Bangkok the number one destination for outbound Indian travelers over the past year.
The number of Indian tourists in Thailand rose to 1.5 million in December 2023 after the free-visa policy came into effect, exceeding the target number of 1.4 million set by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) last year. Thanks to the exemption, Thailand has since managed to draw approximately 4,000-5,550 daily Indian arrivals.
The surge in tourist arrivals from India also extended beyond Thailand’s main municipality of Bangkok to beachside provinces such as Pattaya, which saw an ascent from fifth to third place in the rankings, according to digital travel platform Agoda.
Krishna Rathi, the Country Director for India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives at Agoda, emphasized the transformative impact of relaxed visa norms on India’s outbound travel scene. He noted, “The relaxation of visa norms seems to be an accelerator for India’s outbound travel landscape. More and more destinations are recognizing India’s potential as a key source market. With Bangkok now leading over Dubai, and Pattaya rising in the ranks, it’s clear that Southeast Asia’s allure is growing stronger.”
“The fact that many of these destinations can now be visited without having to worry about the paperwork will likely encourage even more Indian travelers to go abroad and explore.”
Following the surge of arriving tourists from countries in the region, other countries in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region have announced potential changes that could lead to further relaxations. China, for instance, has unveiled a visa-free corridor with Thailand, along with visa-free travel windows for visitors from France, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, Switzerland, Spain, and the Netherlands.
While Laos may not be included in the ranking, the country has managed to attract a substantial number of tourists, with 9,198 Indian visitors recorded during the period from January to September 2023. This year, the country is aiming to attract a total of more than 2.7 million international tourists and generate USD 401 million with its Visit Laos Year 2024 campaign.
The growing trend of tourist arrivals to Southeast Asian countries highlights the region as a hotspot for global tourism, driven in part by strategic visa policies that facilitate easier travel for visitors from key markets, including India.