People, Travel

Thailand to Grant Multiple-Entry Visas

Thailand to Grant Multiple-Entry VisasThailand to Grant Multiple-Entry Visas

Thailand is moving to grant multiple-entry visas to all visitors from any country to boost tourism and drive the economy.

Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has given the green light to the proposal, which is expected to go into effect within 60 days after receiving Cabinet approval, National Multimedia reported.

Currently, citizens of 30-40 countries can enter the kingdom without a visa, but some other nationals are required to pay about Bt1,000 ($28) to get a single-entry, 30-day visa.

The minister said the new visa would allow holders to come into the country more than once, which is similar to what is applied by many other countries. The government plans to charge Bt5,000 ($142) for the six-month visa.

Tourism is the only industry that has continued growing in recent years while others are still suffering from the global economic slowdown.

Thailand is aiming to attract 28 million foreign travelers this year. Domestic and inbound tourism are expected to generate Bt2.2 trillion ($62.5 billion) in revenue, or about 10% of gross national product.

Last month saw 2.6 million arrivals, improving by 37% from same month last year. China and Malaysia were the top source markets.

  Master Development Plan

The Cabinet on Tuesday gave the nod to the Tourism Ministry’s three-year Tourism Master Development Plan aimed at boosting quality tourists and promoting sustainable development.

It would also relax travel conditions and increase cooperation with other countries, particularly Thailand’s neighbors.

Last week, Thailand and Myanmar agreed to waive entry visas at major airports for the citizens of the two nations journeying between the two countries by plane. They can stay up to 14 days.

The ministry will soon kick off the development package, including establishment of the Tourism Information Gateway, to provide information to tourists before landing and while in the country.

The agency will also develop more attractions, train more human resources, increase security, publicize second-tier destinations and fill up business in the low season.

Last week, officials of five Mekong River riparian countries, namely Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, met in Nay Pi Taw in Myanmar to discuss tourism cooperation under the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy.

The five nations are preparing to embark on the “Five Countries-One Destination” campaign to boost travel to third countries.

Each country is assigned to lead one of seven areas, including tourism marketing, product linkage, tourist exchange, tourism product development, tourism safety and private sector involvement.

The five nations will also facilitate visas and transportation, enhance capacity-building programs for tourism professionals and tourism stakeholders, and champion green and responsible tourism.