Thailand to consider easing visa rules for tourists

Thailand proposes to extend visa-free travel and cancel the fee for its extension

Thailand to consider easing visa rules for tourists

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) together with travel operators is promoting a proposal to increase the period of visa-free entry from 30 to 45 days, and to cancel the visa fee of 1900 baht for extending the stay in the country, for tourists from visa-free countries.

Tourism Authority of Thailand meeting with more than 100 representatives of 10 tourism associations ended with five proposals to be presented to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) next week, the Bangkok Post reported.

“All tourists should have been treated on an equal basis. If possible, we should also provide a fee waiver for multiple entry to allow them to visit neighbouring countries during the same trip,” said Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, president of the Phuket Tourist Association.

Currently, Thailand provides visa exemptions to 56 countries, whose citizens do not have to apply for a visa or pay a fee of 1,000 baht upon entry into the country. But visa-free entry is limited to only 30 days of stay.

However, citizens of most countries, including potential markets such as India, are still required to pay an application fee of 1,900 baht when applying for an extension of stay.

The visa on arrival (VOA), which is the top choice among visitors who do not want to face the inconvenience of visiting a Thai consulate, costs 1,500 baht. However, this option allows the visitor to stay in Thailand for no more than 15 days.

The limit of 30 days may not be enough for current conditions. Tourists now want to take longer trips, as seen in the increase in the average cost per visitor from 47,000 baht to 77,000 baht, said Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the TAT.

According to Yuthasak, for tourists with high expenses, the amount of the visa fee may not be much, but if they can save on these expenses, they will have more money to spend while traveling around the country, which will directly stimulate the local economy.

Previously, the government has already increased the period of allowed stay in the country from 30 to 45 days during the period when mandatory quarantine was required. So if tour operators now want to apply for another extension, that shouldn’t be an obstacle, Yuthasak suggests.

“We totally agree with the proposal to waive the visa fee for those who must apply for a visa, in addition to extending the length of stay for both visa-free countries and the VOA,” said Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotels Association.
“The longer they stay, the more they can spend more locally.”

In addition to visa issues, the private sector has also agreed to ask the CCSA to lift restrictions on nighttime entertainment hours, returning to the previous practice that existed before the pandemic.

The private sector also supports the idea of promoting Thailand as a mask-free destination by eliminating the requirement for masks in the kingdom. Masks may remain mandatory for crowded places or enclosed spaces. Private operators, such as hotels or restaurants, could decide for themselves whether to require their staff to wear masks, the meeting said.

Most representatives also agreed with a proposal by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports to abolish the Thailand Pass system, meaning that the only requirements for visitors would be vaccination certificates and insurance.

Temperature checks at all locations should be discontinued because experience has shown that this measure cannot practically identify those infected with the virus, the representatives said.

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