TAT and Tourists Operators To Propose Easing Current Visa Rules

Tour operators and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) have agreed to submit a proposal for a visa fee waiver for international visitors and an eligibility extension for travelers from visa-free countries during this year’s third quarter.

On Friday, the TAT and over 100 representatives from ten tourism associations wrapped up a meeting aimed at discussing five proposals expected to be submitted to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) subcommittee next week.

Phuket Tourism Association President Bhummikitti Ruktaengam said Thailand should provide a multiple-entry fee waiver to allow international tourists to visit neighboring countries during the same trip.

“This could be a good opportunity for us to lead the reopening of CLMV,” he added, referring to Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Laos.

Under Thailand’s current entry regulations, citizens of 56 countries do not have to apply for a visa or pay the 1,000-baht fee. However, they can only stay in the kingdom for 30 days.

The rule also requires visitors from most countries, including potential markets like India, to apply for a visa and pay an application fee for a 60-day stay.

The favorite option among tourists who want to avoid the tedious paperwork at the Thai consulate, the visa-on-arrival (VOA), costs 1,500 baht but only allows travelers to stay within the country for 15 days.

According to the TAT Governor, the 30-day limit may be insufficient for the current environment, as most tourists plan to take longer trips.

Today’s tourists spend an estimated 47,000-77,000 baht per visit. While the visa fee amount may seem insignificant, travelers who save that amount can travel around the country and spend more money, stimulating the local economy, Mr. Yuthasak added.

In addition, the TAT governor said that seeking another extension should no longer be an obstacle for tourism operators since the government previously extended the right to stay in the country from 30 to 45 days during the quarantine.

Thai Hotels Association President Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi said hotel operators have agreed to waive visa fees and extend visa duration for countries with visa exemptions or VOA holders, arguing that tourists would spend more locally the longer they stay.

Other proposals discussed at Friday’s meeting included lifting restrictions on late-night entertainment hours, promoting Thailand as a mask-free destination, backing the Tourism and Sports Ministry’s proposal to cancel the Thailand Pass system, and halting temperature checks in all the places.