In a bid to attract more long-haul visitors and increase tourism revenue, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is pushing for a 90-day visa-free stay for tourists from countries like the United States and Europe. Currently, most nationalities can stay for 30 days without a visa.
If implemented, the proposed extension would allow visitors from these regions to stay for up to 90 days, elevating long-haul revenue to 40% of Thailand’s total tourism income by the end of 2024.
Proposal to Extend Visa-Free Stays
TAT’s proposal to extend visa-free stays for tourists aims to extend the average length of stay and maximize spending per trip for long-haul travellers.
“Extending stays should add at least a million room nights nationwide,” said Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, TAT deputy governor for Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas.
This translates to more tourism dollars injected into the local economy.
Current Visa Policies and Successes
Thailand presently offers tourist visas on arrival to citizens of over 60 countries, including popular Western destinations such as the US, the UK, Germany, France, and Scandinavian nations.
However, most visitors are limited to a 30-day stay before requiring a visa extension.
A temporary 90-day visa granted to Russian tourists last November proved successful, demonstrating the potential of longer stays for specific markets.
Additionally, over 100,000 foreign tourists opted for the 60-day visa option last year, highlighting a demand for extended visits.
Beyond Visa Extensions
TAT is also advocating for the continuation of other travel-friendly measures like:
- Suspension of TM6 forms: These forms were previously required at Thai-Malaysia border crossings, simplifying entry for land travellers.
- Visa-free entry for Kazakhs: This measure boosts tourism from this emerging market.
Ambitious Tourist Targets
TAT is aiming for a record-breaking year, with 10 million long-haul tourist arrivals expected, representing nearly 30% of the projected 35 million total foreign visitors.
This would signify a significant recovery from pre-pandemic levels when long-haul tourists comprised 23% of arrivals and contributed 33% of tourism revenue.
Encouraging New Routes and Overlooked Destinations
To further strengthen the long-haul market, TAT plans to incentivize airlines to open new routes to less congested airports outside Bangkok, including Surat Thani, U-tapao, Krabi, and Chiang Mai. This expands tourism opportunities beyond traditional hotspots and distributes economic benefits nationwide.
Thailand’s commitment to attracting long-haul travellers through extended visa stays, diversified air travel options, and appealing value propositions appears poised to drive a strong tourism year in 2024.