Thailand targets Central Asia to boost inbound tourism hinh anh 1Tourists pose for a photo in Lamphun province of Thailand. (Photo: Xinhua/VNA)
Bangkok (VNA) - The Tourism and Sports Ministry of Thailand is looking to new markets in Central Asia, particularly Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, as post-COVID trends show strong demand for international tourism.

Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakan said Central Asia has potential as a new market for inbound tourism because of short flight times of no more than seven and a half hours.

The ministry's market analysis showed that travellers from this region have high demand to travel internationally after the pandemic. In particular, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have higher potential for economic growth than other nations in the region.

To people from this region, visa applications and flights were found to be the main factors in determining holiday destinations.

According to Thailand’s new regulations, tourists from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are eligible to apply for visas on arrival from October this year to March next year for 30 days, up from 15 days previously.

Meanwhile, Air Astana is operating direct flights from Almaty in Kazakhstan to Phuket three times per week. For the upcoming high season, direct services to Phuket will be increase, totalling 1,162 seats on direct flights, starting from October 30. A new route to Bangkok is scheduled to start on the same date.

SCAT Airlines based in Shymkent, Kazakhstan, also announced chartered services from Almaty, Astana, Kostanay, Shymkent and Uralsk to both Phuket and U-tapao airports of Thailand.

Minister Phiphat said Kazakhstan ranked first among the Commonwealth of Independent States countries in terms of foreign visitors to Thailand, with 56,529 travellers in 2019, followed by Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, which had 19,891 and 4,608 travellers, respectively./.