Thailand Eases Visa Procedure to Further Stimulate Tourism

While a possible slowdown in tourist arrivals has been seen in October and early November following the mourning period in Thailand, the government is taking additional measures to stimulate foreign tourists’ demand.

The cabinet on Tuesday decided to temporarily waive the visa fee and halve the visa-on-arrival fee for tourists from 19 countries including China to attract more visitors during this high season. From Dec 1 to Feb 28, the Kingdom will abolish the 1,000-baht fee for visas sought at Thai embassies and consulates while the 2,000-baht fee for visas on arrival would be reduced by 50% to just 1,000 baht, said Apisit Chaiyanuwat, vice minister at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Visitors benefiting from that measure are citizens from Andorra, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, the Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. According to tourism authorities, the measure should boost total arrivals by 350,000 and generate additional tourism revenues of THB 28 billion (US$ 780 million).

In parallel, the cabinet decided also to extend long-stay visa for seniors from one year to 10 years. This visa is valid for foreigners aged 50 or more. The visa will be valid initially for five years and can then be renewed for another five years at a cost of THB 10,000 (US$282). Eligible foreigners for the visa must have a monthly income of at least THB 100,000 and/or a bank deposit of at least THB three million (US$84,500).

Senior foreign citizens must also have a health insurance coverage and must report to immigration police every 90 days. Most of the tourists targeted are from Western Europe, Taiwan, Japan, Australia and North America.