Thailand is set to offer travellers longer visas on arrival in order to attract great numbers back to its shores in the coming months. Once one of the most visited countries in the world – home to 2019’s most visited city in Bangkok – the country has struggled to welcome tourists back in the types of numbers it became accustomed to over the last decade as a result of not only the Covid-19 pandemic, but also the Thai government’s strict response to it.
Whilst travellers from many countries are already offered a generous visa upon arrival stay duration, the Thai government hopes that by extending the length of time travellers are permitted to enter the country more travellers will pick to visit the Land of Smiles over other destinations, helping the country’s travel industry return to its former glories. Here’s everything we know about the country’s plans to extend its visa durations, plus a look at other news stories to emerge from the country in recent weeks.
For some time now, travellers heading to Thailand have been able to do so without needing to conform to what was once some of the world’s strictest entry rules and requirements. Yet whilst the days of negative pre-travel Covid-19 test results, mandatory stays in quarantine hotels and special Thailand Pass authorization are now behind us, travellers still need to make sure they have the correct visa type to cover the length of time that they wish to stay in the country.
Thailand has a generous visa on arrival and visa exemption system in place for travellers from a range of different countries. Those arriving in the Land of Smile from places such as Canada, the USA, the UK and dozens more countries are already permitted to enter the country for a period of 30 days, stamped into their passports upon arrival. However, under new plans from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, travellers are set to see their visa terms extended further.
Instead of being able to enter the country for 30 days, travellers who were previously able to get a visa upon arrival will soon be eligible to receive a 45-day visa stamp upon arrival, providing travellers with the possibility of staying in Thailand for a further two weeks than they were previously allowed. That’s plenty of time to get off the beaten path and visit a lesser-known province, or to really get your feet under the rug and settle down in one of the country’s beach towns or mountain provinces.
The decision to extend the visa’s duration has been put forward as a way for the country to boost its tourism sector and reach its lofty targets of attracting 10 million travellers. The move has already been accepted by Thailand’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), and the Interior and Foreign ministries, the Immigration Bureau and other related agencies have been instructed to alter their procedures to comply with the extension.
However, the change in policy isn’t set to last forever. The longer, 45-day visa stamps will only apply to travellers who enter the country between October 1st 2022 to the 31st March 2023, before going back down to their regular durations. Whilst not all travellers will need the full 45 days, the move is perfect for backpackers and travellers who have had to previously pay to extend their stays in the country, and it could also prove to be very attractive for digital nomads.
The timing of the visa policy change also coincides with Thailand’s decision to start treating Covid-19 like the flu. Yet whilst it may be a return to normality on paper, everyday life in the country still bears the scars of the pandemic, with mask-wearing still widespread, screens and social distancing stickers still adorning eateries and shops and resorts towns still much emptier than usual – for now.