Tourism officials in Thailand along with travel industry representatives are proposing to extend the visa-free period and abolish the fee for extensions
The Tourist Authority of Thailand along with tourism operators are pushing a proposal to extend visa-free travel from 30 to 45 days as well as waiving the visa fee of 1,900 baht for extensions for tourists from visa-free countries.
A meeting of the Tourism Authority of Thailand with more than 100 representatives of 10 tourism associations ended with five proposals to be submitted to the Covid-19 Situation Centre next week, the Bangkok Post reported.
“All tourists should be treated equally. If possible, we should grant exemption from multiple-entry fees so that tourists can visit neighbouring countries during one trip,” Phuket Tourism Association president Bhummikitti Ruktaengam said.
Currently, Thailand provides visa exemptions to 56 countries whose nationals do not have to apply for a visa or pay a fee of 1,000 baht on entry into the country. However, visa-free entry is limited to only 30 days of stay. However, nationals of most countries, including potential markets such as Russia and India, are still required to pay an application fee of 1,900 baht when applying for an extension of stay.
The visa on arrival, which is the top choice among visitors who do not wish to face the inconvenience of visiting a Thai consulate, costs 1,500 baht. However, this option allows the visitor to extend their stay in Thailand by only 15 days.
The 30-day limit may not be enough for current conditions. Tourists today want to make longer trips, which is seen in the increase in the average cost per visitor from 47,000 baht to 77,000 baht, Tourism Authority head Yutasak Supasorn said. According to Yutasak, for tourists with high expenses, the amount of the visa fee may not be significant, but if they can save on these expenses, they will have more money to spend while travelling around the country, which will directly stimulate the local economy.
Previously, the Thai government has already increased the period of permitted stays from 30 to 45 days during the period when mandatory quarantine was required. So if tour operators now want to apply for another extension, this should not be an obstacle, Yutasak suggests.
“We fully agree with the proposal to waive the visa fee in Thailand for those who have to apply for a visa, in addition to increasing the length of stay for both visa-free countries and visas on arrival,” said Thai Hotels Association president Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi. “The longer tourists stay in the country, the more they can spend locally.”
In addition to visa issues, the private sector has also asked the Situation Centre to lift restrictions on the opening hours of night entertainment venues, returning to the previous practice that existed before the pandemic.
The private sector has also supported the idea of promoting Thailand as a mask-free destination by removing the requirement to wear face masks in the kingdom. Masks could 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 to the country would be vaccination certificates and insurance.
Temperature checks at all locations should be discontinued as experience has shown that this measure cannot practically identify those infected with the virus, the representatives said.
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