Thailand’s Bureau of Immigration has passed a new regulation that will allow visitors to remain in the Kingdom for 30 days longer than they were permitted up until now.
The new regulation became effective at the end of August and means that tourists from 49 countries that enter the country under a 30-day visa exemption are now able to stay for a total of 60 days, while visitors that enter the country on a 60-day tourist visa can apply for an extension to remain in the Kingdom for 90 days.
The announcement comes as great news for travellers seeking to linger longer in the Kingdom, particularly with high season about to start in November. The visa extension is available for a cost of THB1,900 (US$59) and according to Pol Col Voravat Amornvivat, the change in visa regulations is intended to boost tourism numbers in the country.
In a further bid to increase tourist numbers in the Land of Smiles, authorities are also offering Chinese visitors free visas, according to Reuters. Chinese nationals currently account for the highest proportion of overseas visitors in Thailand, and made up 19 percent of all arrivals in July this year. Spending by mainland Chinese nationals rose by 80 percent to US$6 billion in 2013 from the previous year and tourism contributes some 10 percent of revenue for the Thai economy annually. The authorities are therefore keen to ensure all visitors – including those from China – enjoy their stay.
The new visa regulations are not the only step tourism authorities have taken this year to boost visitor numbers. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) also launched a new tagline to kick off its latest marketing campaign following the country’s military coup earlier this year. The campaign, ‘Amazing Thailand: Happiness Within’, aims to promote concepts of Thainess, happiness and sustainability.
“In 2013, Thailand’s tourism revenue was ranked sixth in the world and third in Asia by the World Tourism Organisation. TAT is dedicated to make this ranking higher in 2015,” said TAT governor, Thawatchai Arunyik. “We must walk together, grow together. We plan to step up cooperation with a broad network of partners both within Thailand and abroad to get people travelling to and within Thailand. We aim to convey the ‘Thai way of happiness’ and deliver the ‘fun factor’ for which Thailand is very well known,” he added.
The new scheme is aimed at overseas travellers who have never visited the Kingdom before, in addition to those who are considering returning to the country to enjoy its tropical delights and fascinating culture. The campaign also features a special focus on niche tourism areas that include golf, honeymoons, weddings, health, wellness and ecotourism.
by MAX VEE