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Thailand eases visa rules for tourists

Thailand eases visa rules for tourists

BANGKOK: The Thai Cabinet approved sweeping changes to visa regulations on Tuesday (May 28, 2024) to boost the country's tourism sector and attract more international visitors. Innovations include expanding visa-free entry and visa on arrival (VoA), as well as extended stays for students and easing health insurance requirements for retirees.

As announced by government spokesman Chai Washarunke, the government hopes that these measures will lead to a significant increase in the number of visitors, as the Thai economy relies heavily on tourism. The number of countries whose citizens can enter without a visa will be increased from 57 to 93, including Albania, Cambodia, China and India. In addition, the maximum length of stay under this regulation has been extended to 60 days.

The possibility of obtaining a visa on arrival has been established for 31 countries; This regulation has previously been applied to 19 countries. In addition, a new five-year visa (“Thailand Destination Visa”) has been introduced, which should be particularly interesting for digital nomads, remote workers and freelancers. This visa allows a stay of up to 180 days, which can be extended once for a further 180 days. “With the Thailand Destination Visa, we want to enable people to experience our culture, such as Muay Thai and Thai cuisine, more intensely and explore the country at the same time,” explains Chai.

Another important change concerns graduates of foreign universities, who will be allowed to stay in the country for a year after completing their studies in order to find work. This affects approximately 40,000 foreign students in Thailand.

In the area of ​​retirement visas, health insurance requirements have been significantly reduced. From September, applicants over the age of 50 will only have to provide proof of insurance coverage worth 440,000 baht (400,000 baht for inpatient treatment and 40,000 baht for outpatient treatment), much less than the previously required 3 million baht.

In addition, e-Visa applications are currently being expanded from 47 to 94 Thai consulates and embassies worldwide. These changes will come into effect from 1 June 2024 and will initially apply to long-term stays from September to December.

The Thai government is confident that these changes will be essential to revitalize the tourism sector after the challenges of recent years.