Greece and Thailand Renew Tourism Cooperation Agreement
Greece and Thailand are aiming to increase bilateral tourism flows and have announced the renewal of a Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation in the field of tourism agreed upon 16 years ago.
The decision for the renewal of the MoU was made following a recent meeting held between Greek Deputy Minister of Tourism Sofia Zacharaki and Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn.
Signed in 2006 between the Greek Tourism Ministry and the Tourism and Sports Ministry of the Kingdom of Thailand, the memorandum aims to strengthen the tourism and economic ties between the two countries and includes joint tourism activities and exchanges.
Details surrounding the renewed cooperation between the two countries were announced during a reception held in Athens by the Tourism Authority of Thailand on the 16th anniversary of the day of the signing of the MoU.
“The historical ties between the two countries and the will to take cooperation a step further have been confirmed,” Secretary General for Tourism Policy and Development Olympia Anastasopoulou said during a media briefing at the reception.
“The executives of the Tourism Authority of Thailand have presented their strategy for the next day of tourism and we have found many fields of cooperation, especially in the field of thematic tourism, such as cultural, gastronomy and yachting tourism,” she said.
Key issues: Visa facilitation, direct flights
According to Anastasopoulou, the Greek tourism ministry’s plans include facilitating the visa process for travelers from Thailand wanting to travel to Greece and the resuming of a direct air connection between the two countries. Direct flights between Greece and Thailand, which were conducted by Thai Airways, stopped in 2012.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, visitors from Thailand to Greece amounted to some 14,000, while this year they have barely reached 3,000.
Anastasopoulou announced that the tourism ministry’s aim is to gradually boost arrivals from Thailand and in 2023 is looking to attract at least 10,000.
“We want direct flights between the two countries to be established as soon as possible… For Greece, tourism is a national issue and the Thai market shows perspective. We can exchange good practices and together manage to extend the tourism season for both countries,” she said, adding that when it is winter in Greece, it is summer in Thailand and vice versa.
At this point, Anastasopoulou highlighted that the ministry aims to spread the word internationally that Greece is not only a summer destination, but also can easily welcome visitors in the winter.
‘Greeks will find Thailand to be a very special destination’
On his part, the governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Yuthasak Supasorn, underlined that trade relations between Greece and Thailand started 350 years ago and now is the time for them to strengthen.
While presenting Thailand’s tourism strategy, Supasorn said that having lost the Asian market due to ongoing restrictions caused by the pandemic, Thailand is now strategically focusing on Europe.
“Greece is one of the countries that appeal to Thai travelers and we believe that Greeks will find Thailand to be a very special destination,” he said.
Thailand welcomed some 40 million tourists in 2019, of which almost 7 million were from Europe. Today, after resuming travel after two years of Covid restrictions, Thailand’s tourism market has rebounded by some 50 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels. Thailand is aiming in 2023 to reach 80 percent of its pre-pandemic tourist numbers.
“We are opening a new chapter with Greece and are ready to welcome Greek families, digital nomads, but also travelers that focus on health and wellness… Creating experiences is what makes the difference,” Supasorn said.
Thailand extends visa-free stay for tourists
According the Royal Thai Embassy in Athens, to facilitate visitors, Thailand is extending the length of stay in Thailand for travelers from countries and territories under the Tourist Visa Exemption Scheme and Visa on Arrival arrangement.
Therefore, from 1 October this year, Greek tourists can enjoy their stay in Thailand for 45 days, instead of 30 days, without a visa.
“Thailand is back in business, and the business of tourism is at our forefront after a long pause during the pandemic,” said Minister Counsellor Pornsith Pibulnakarintr when delivering a speech on behalf of the Ambassador of Thailand to Greece Attakarn Wongchanamas.
During the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s reception in Athens, Thailand’s new tourism campaign “Amazing Thailand, Amazing New Chapters” was presented to the Greek audience. The evening included Thai cultural demonstrations and performances on stage.