Thailand Plans to Roll Out Long-stay Tourist Visas

The country is taking tentative steps toward reopening its borders to limited numbers of foreign visitors.

Sunset over a pier on the southern Thai island of Ko Yao Yai. (Photo: Alin Meceanu/Unsplash)

Following a cabinet meeting yesterday, Thailand’s prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced that a new visa policy had secured approval from top officials, paving the way for the kingdom’s much-anticipated reopening to leisure travelers. Under the Special Tourist Visa Scheme, which was proposed by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, visas will be issued to visitors planning to stay at least 90 days in the country, and the period of validity could be extended to a maximum of nine months.

According to a report in the Bangkok Post, deputy government spokesperson Traisulee Traisaranakul said the aim was to attract “quality visitors” and boost the hard-hit tourism sector by letting in between 100 and 300 travelers a week on up to three flights over the same period, with numbers capped at a monthly quota of 1,200 people. The scheme is projected to generate revenues of around one billion baht (US$32.1 million) a month, amounting to 12 billion baht (US$385 million) a year.

Eligible overseas visitors must first agree to spend 14 days in quarantine, either at hospitals or hotels registered as alternative state quarantine facilities. The 90-day visa will cost 2,000 baht (US$64) and can be extended twice for the equivalent period each time, making them valid for up to 270 days, or nine months.

Traisulee added that applications for the special visa should be made to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, with a medical certificate proving the traveler was free of Covid-19, details and bookings for post-quarantine accommodation, as well as enough travel and health insurance coverage for the duration of their stay. The spokesperson also said visitors could begin arriving as soon as next month, and the policy would be in place until November 2021.

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