In a recent article published in “The Nation” the Thai Cabinet has agreed in principle to help boost tourism by relaxing restrictions on single & multiple entry tourist visas. This is part of an overall strategy to boost tourism not just to Thailand but also to the surrounding Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries such as Laos, Cambodia & Malaysia. Other measures include the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) who plan to join forces with the Finance Ministry by setting up special areas in tourist hot spots such as department stores to help facilitate the quick refund of Value Added Tax (VAT).
The Thai Cabinet in conjunction with the Tourism & Sports Ministry and Tourism Authority of Thailand recognize that nearly 5 Million foreign tourists travelled through land-border checkpoints in 2017, which was up by 3% on the previous year. Also, it’s widely known that many foreigners particularly from Singapore, Japan and Malaysia like to travel to Thailand for shopping, leisure, sports competitions and healthcare. The overall strategy is to boost tourism revenue to about 2.28 Trillion THB in 2019, which would represent a 12% increase on the previous year.
All of this is to be centered around their “Amazing Thailand Grand Sale Passport Privilege Campaign”, which is due to run from November 15, 2018 to January 15, 2019. As such the relaxation of the single & multiple entry tourist visas is subject to review after a 2 Month pilot period, whilst the start date has yet to be finalized as the Tourism & Sports Ministry has yet to finish their study and present their findings to the Thai Cabinet.
Essentially the new tourist visa proposals will allow foreigners traveling from countries with pre-existing visa waivers who qualify for a single entry (30 Day) tourist visa on arrival to change their visa status from a single entry (30 Day) to double entry (60 Day) tourist visa for a reduced fee of 1,000THB per person, and is valid for travel within 6 Months. The Thai Cabinet has also approved a re-entry permit to facilitate the comings and goings of tourists who visit neighboring ASEAN countries before returning to Thailand without the need to make any further requests. However what’s even more interesting is the fact that the Thai Cabinet plan to amend the Interior Ministry regulations to allow foreigners who qualify for single entry (30 Day) tourist waivers to enter Thailand via a land immigration and/or land border checkpoints an unlimited number of visa waivers per calendar year.
In my personal opinion, this is an extremely positive step and shows that the Thai Cabinet are mindful of the economy and are taking pro-active steps to boost overall revenue and prosperity for their citizens.