Thailand has scrapped visa requirements for Indian nationals ahead of the peak season as the Southeast Asian country looks to boost tourism after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The visa waiver will start next month on November 10 and will continue till May 10, 2024, a government official said on Tuesday. Indians currently shell out 2,200 baht (or roughly ₹5,100) for visa on arrival in Thailand.

"Arrivals from India and Taiwan can enter Thailand for 30 days," government spokesman Chai Wacharonke says.

According to government data, Indian visitors in Thailand ranked fourth in terms of numbers this year after Malaysia, China, and South Korea.

The visa-free entry for Indian travellers comes close on the heels of Thailand scrapping visa requirements for Chinese citizens. The Kingdom earlier this month allowed Russian citizens to visit visa-free for up to 90 days until April 2024.

The Thai government is counting on foreign tourist arrivals to revive its sluggish economy. The country's new prime minister Srettha Thavisin had earlier said that there aren't many incoming flights from India yet due to internal politics.

To increase tourism after the Covid-19 pandemic, Thailand became the first country in Asia to decriminalise cannabis last year. The Kingdom legalised the sale of marijuana with certain restrictions. As a result, hundreds of cannabis cafes and weed shops sprung up in tourist areas such as Phuket and Koh Samui. However, the country's new prime minister in September said that his government will rectify the cannabis policy and limit its use to medical purposes within six months.

Last week, Sri Lanka waived the visa fee for Indians in an effort to boost tourism and revive its beleaguered economy after last year's economic crisis. Indians constitute around 20% of the total tourist arrivals in the island nation. The country also approved free visas for tourists from China, Russia, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan and Indonesia.

While Thailand and Sri Lanka have scrapped the visa fee for Indians, El Salvador, a Central American nation, is charging passengers from India and Africa a whopping $1,000 fee to curb illegal migration to the U.S. Including (value added tax) VAT, the additional cost is $1,130 for travellers from India. Many migrants from Africa and Asia make it to the US via El Salvador.

As per El Salvador's port authority, individuals travelling with passports from India or more than 50 African nations, will now be required to pay this fee, and the funds collected from this will be allocated towards enhancing the country's primary international airport.

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