Thailand’s tourism sector has proposed a relaxation of visa rules to allow travelers to stay longer in the country.
Tour operators have reached an agreement with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to offer a visa fee waiver for international arrivals and an extension of admissibility for visitors from nations that do not require a visa to enter in the country from 30 to 45 days in the second half of this year.
A joint meeting between the TAT and more than 100 representatives from 10 tourism associations concluded on June 10 with five proposals that are expected to be presented to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) subcommittee next week. .
“All tourists should have been treated equally.
If possible, we should also provide a fee waiver for multiple entries to allow them to visit neighboring countries on the same trip,” said Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, chairman of the Phuket Tourism Association.
“This could be a good opportunity for us to lead the reopening of CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam).”
At present, Thailand grants visa exemption to 56 countries whose citizens do not have to apply for a visa or pay the 1,000 baht (27 euros), but the stay is limited to 30 days.
See: Visa-free entry to Thailand (30 days)
However, travelers from most countries, including high-potential markets like India, still need to apply for a visa and pay an application fee for a stay not exceeding 60 days.
The visa-on-arrival (VOA) option, which is the first choice for visitors who do not wish to suffer the inconvenience of a visit to the Thai consulate, costs 1,500 baht.
However, this option only allows a visitor to stay in Thailand for a maximum of 15 days.
The 30-day limit may not be enough in the current environment, as tourists now want to take longer trips, as shown by the increase in average spending per visitor from 47,000 baht (1,287 euros) to 77,000 baht (2,109 euros), said Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the TAT.
According to him, for high-spending tourists, the amount of visa fees may be insignificant, but if they can save on this cost, they will have more money to spend when traveling in the country, which will directly boost the local economy.
As the government previously extended the right to stay in the country from 30 to 45 days during the period when quarantine was required, if tour operators want to apply for another extension, that should not be an obstacle, Mr Yuthasak said. .
“We fully agree with the proposal to waive visa fees for those who need to apply, in addition to extending the length of stay for visa-free countries and VOAs,” said Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thai Hotel Association.
“The longer they stay, the more they can spend there.”
News calls for an end to tourist pushbacks
In addition to visa issues, the private sector also agreed to ask the CCSA to lift restrictions on nighttime entertainment hours by returning to the same practices each region adopted before the pandemic.
They also support the idea of promoting Thailand as a mask-free destination by revoking the mask-wearing requirement in all areas.
Masks may be suggested for congested spaces or indoors.
Private operators, such as hotels or restaurants, can make their own decision on whether to require their staff to wear a mask, according to the meeting.
See: Thailand’s mask requirement set to end soon
Most representatives also endorsed the Ministry of Tourism and Sports’ proposal to cancel the Thailand Pass system.
See: Possible end of the Thailand Pass on July 1 and new postponement of the tourist tax
Temperature checks in all places should also be halted, as experience has shown that this measure does not concretely identify people infected with the virus, the representatives said.
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Source: Bangkok Post