Thailand has extended its online visa service to include a total of 23 countries. Nationals of these sovereign states can apply online to get a tourist visa for Thailand. The recent update has added 9 diplomatic missions (embassies and consulates) to the list of those that process visa applications made online. The Thailand electronic visa
17 January 2023| Post by
Foreign visitors may be able to enjoy visa-free trips to Thailand for up to 45 days until the end of the year.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has proposed keeping the initiative in place for the whole of 2023.
The original plan was to return to the previous maximum of 30 days after March 31.
The TAT has pointed to the huge rise in the number of tourists since extending the maximum time limit for visa-free stays last October.
More than 11 million foreign nationals visited Thailand last year. The TAT credits the extension of visa-free stays with helping to achieve this.
It hopes that maintaining the policy will continue to boost tourism and help the sector to recovery in the wake of the pandemic.
Thailand’s Extended Visa Exemption
Thailand’s visa policy has a Tourist Visa Exemption Scheme. Under normal circumstances, eligible travelers can visit Thailand for up to 30 days without a visa.
Tourists who hold a passport issued by certain countries can benefit from this scheme.
With the tourism industry still struggling after the COVID-19 pandemic, the TAT proposed extending the visa-free period from 30 to 45 days.
Thailand’s government approved the proposal in September 2022. Thai visa on arrivals were also temporarily extended. The decision was made to take advantage of the high season and generate as much revenue as possible from tourism.
The extended visa exemption initiative began on October 1. From this date, nationals of over 50 different countries have been able to visit Thailand for up to 45 days without a visa.
With a marked increase in tourist arrivals since then, the TAT is now pushing to extend the measure. The proposal is to move back the end date from 31 March to the end of 2023.
This will likely continue to help boost the recovery of the tourist sector.
What Measures Will Thailand Take to Boost Tourism?
Thai tourism authorities are proposing 3 key measures to help boost tourism, including extending 2 visa policies already in place:
- Visa exemption extended from 30 days to 45 days for eligible nationalities
- Visa on Arrival extended from 15 days to 30 days for eligible travelers
- Increase flights to Thailand
The 45-day visa exemption rule and 30-day Visas on Arrival are already in place until at least March 31, 2023, with plans to extend them to the end of the year.
To take advantage of these policies to boost tourism to the target levels, the TAT is also engaging in talks with airlines. The aim is to increase flight frequency and start new flight routes to Thailand.
The TAT aims to generate tourism revenues of 2.38 trillion baht ($72 billion) with these measures.
How Extending Visa-Free Stays Has Helped Tourism in Thailand
Thailand is the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia and a favorite destination for tourists. After being hard-hit by the pandemic, the tourism industry has started to recover.
The TAT aimed to receive 10 million tourists in 2022. By opening up the country’s visa policy with extended visa-free stays, Thailand smashed this target with over 11 million visitors.
Thanks to these initiatives, Thailand’s tourist sector showed one of the highest rates of recovery in the region post-COVID.
By increasing the maximum length of stay permitted, the TAT aims to encourage tourists to stay for longer and spend more money. When the initiative was introduced, they predicted that tourists would spend 5 days longer on average than they would have otherwise done.
If the average tourist’s daily spend is 4000 – 5000 baht per day, this would add up to roughly an additional 20,000 baht spent by each tourist for every trip made to Thailand. All together, this means a lot of extra money going straight into the Thai economy.
It appears that the scheme is working. Not only are more tourists arriving in Thailand, they are staying longer. There has been a noticeable increase in Russian tourists making extended trips, likely to enjoy the warm climate during the colder months back home. This has also been helped by the return of flights directly between Russia and Thailand.
In 2023, Thai authorities hope to reach a target of 25 million foreign tourists.
Chinese tourists will be one of the key groups that Thailand intends to attract. The Chinese previously made up a huge proportion of visitors to its shores, but China’s strict travel restrictions have been in place until recently. Now that the borders are open, Thailand will hope to count on a surge of arrivals from China.
The TAT have also said that they hope to double pre-pandemic tourism figures by 2025, with 80 million foreign arrivals.
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