Jul 4, 2013

Advantages of Japan visa-free for Thais

Kasikorn Research Centre says Japan visa exemption for Thais will encourage outbound travel to reach around 300,000 trips this year up around 50% on last year’s trends.

Japan confirmed that the new visa-free rule would be effective, 1 July, giving Thai visitors a stay of up to 15 days in the country. For longer stays visitors will need to apply for a visa at the Japanese embassy in Bangkok. The visa-free stay is not extendable.

The bank noted that Japan’s tourism has made a quick recovery in the aftermath of the great East Japan earthquake disaster of March 2011, and through the introduction of visa-free entry, travel to the country should continue to expand.

The centre said the Japanese government intends to increase international tourist arrivals to 18 million by 2016 and 25 million by 2020, focusing on ASEAN markets including Thailand.

Outbound travel from Thailand performs well below par when compared to Singapore and Malaysia. Thais face considerable hassle to obtain visas, while the low value of the Thai baht compared with most currencies in the past made overseas travel expensive.

Japan will give visa-free entry to both Thai and Malaysian tourists. The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved the scheme, 11 June, although he did not elaborate at the time when the new measure would take effect. He suggested it would be introduced ahead of the summer season. A 1 July launch has now been officially confirmed by the Japanese government.

Other factors that attract foreign visitors to Japan are the diverse tourism products along with numerous breathtaking natural attractions, fine weather, exotic food and a mix of traditional and high tech lifestyles. The bank noted that Japan should welcome 10 million visitors this year, up 20% year-on -year.

Outbound travel from Thailand is growing mainly because of the rapid rise in the baht against the yen since the fourth quarter of 2012. Japan is viewed as a top shopping destination.

Although the baht is expected to weaken substantially in the second half of this year a visa-free policy when combined with creative packaging by Thai travel agents should maintain a steady moderate growth.
The bank estimated Thai travelers will spend around Bt12 billion on trips to Japan this year.

Kasikorn Research Centre is a subsidiary company of Kasikorn Bank, which conducts tourism and business research mainly on Thailand’s economy including tourism with reliable recommendations and indicators on business prospects.

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