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2,000 Arrivals Expected as Flights from Saudi Arabia to Thailand Resume

Following Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-visit cha’s to Saudi Arabia late last month, Thailand anticipates a rise in reservations from Saudi Arabian tourists when flights from Saudi Arabia to Thailand resume after a 30-year break.

With the revival of direct flights and reciprocal tourist campaigns, more than 200,000 visitors are projected to come in 2022. Saudi Arabian Airlines will begin flying between the two nations on a regular basis.

The Thai government plans to hold roadshow activities in Saudi Arabia as soon as next month, and Saudi visitors will resume visiting Thailand in 2022. In 1989, travel between them came to a standstill due to a severance of diplomatic ties.

Thai Airways International (THAI) has announced that direct flights from Bangkok to Riyadh would begin in May.

2,000 Arrivals Expected as Flights from Saudi Arabia to Thailand Resume
The first regular commercial flight from Saudi Arabia to Thailand in 32 years is one of the first steps toward resuming cooperation between the two countries.

Following a thaw in ties between Thailand and Saudi Arabia last month, flights from Saudi Arabia to Thailand will be accessible beginning February 28.

The activities organized by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), and Thai tourism firms will display Thai products and services to Saudi visitors interested in visiting Thailand, according to Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.

Thailand’s tourism officials have set a high target of 20 billion baht this year from an estimated 200,000 Saudi visitors. Thai workers are also being vetted for Saudi Arabian jobs. Flights from Saudi Arabia to Thailand begin at 1,499 Saudi Arabian Riyal (about 12,850 baht).

Flights from Saudi Arabia to Thailand resume as diplomatic relations were reestablished

According to media report, the two countries made a huge milestone last month when diplomatic relations were normalized 33 years after the tragic Blue Diamond episode of 1989. While the prince and his wife were on vacation, a Thai cleaner stole jewels worth $20 million from the Saudi royal house. The gems were hidden by the cleaner and subsequently sent to Thailand in a freight consignment. The cleaner was finally apprehended by Thai police, but an exceptionally rare blue diamond was never found. The investigation took a deadly turn in February 1990, when three Saudi ambassadors were murdered and assassinated in Bangkok while attempting to locate the gems. Diplomatic relations were broken.

2,000 Arrivals Expected as Flights from Saudi Arabia to Thailand Resume
On January 26, 2022, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to normalize diplomatic relations. A Thai cleaner allegedly stole $20 million in diamonds from a Saudi prince in 1989 and fled the country which led to cutting of ties between the two Kingdoms.

The revival of Thai-Saudi Arabian ties, according to government spokesperson Thanakorn Wangboonkongchan, was ascribed to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-visit cha’s to Saudi Arabia last month, according to another media report.

“Saudi Arabian tourists have high potential,” Mr Thanakorn said, adding that they are a target demographic for the medical hub and wellness tourism program. He also stated that the ministry was in the process of developing a memorandum of understanding on Thai-Saudi Arabian tourist collaboration.

Thai officials and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports are in talks with the Saudi Ministry of Tourism about extending visas for Thai Muslims traveling to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimages. Thai pilgrims’ visas should be extended for journeys to Saudi Arabia, according to a proposal. The document has previously been forwarded to Saudi Arabia for review.

This weekend, the Thai Foreign Ministry plans to transport members from the Thai business sector to Saudi Arabia to discuss bilateral trade development.

According to another media report, if further COVID travel limitations are eased, the number of Saudi tourists might reach 500,000 in the next several years.

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