The Tourism Authority of Thailand is lobbying the government to allow most foreigners on vacation to visit Thailand for up to three months without obtaining a visa from their Thai embassy abroad. Visitors from 64 countries (including the British, Russians, Australians, Americans and most mainland Europeans) are already visa-free. They get 30 days free upon arrival which can be extended for another month at Thai immigration upon payment of 1,900 baht. If the Thai cabinet, as expected, accepts the proposal, these periods would become 45-plus-45 days for a total of three months.
Similar discretion would apply to those from 19 countries (including mega-markets China and India) whose citizens require a visa on arrival costing 1,900 baht ($54) at Thai airports. . Currently they only receive 15 days but would now receive 45 days plus an additional 45 day extension. TAT also proposes the abolition of the levy, but this seems less probable for budgetary reasons. The move toward 90-day entry without involving embassies in the country of origin is partly intended to end visa application delays, but mostly to encourage longer stays and higher expenses.
The Thai authorities seem determined at this time to facilitate the entry of foreigners. Pre-flight and online registration, anti-Covid insurance and even the TM6 address card have been suspended. Arriving passengers no longer have to fill out forms, although Health Ministry officials can carry out random health checks on anyone who appears ill. The experience compares favorably to Cambodia, for example, where all foreigners must complete a visa application, health questionnaire and customs declaration, all collected at various counters.
Yuthasak Supasorn, the governor of the TAT, also announced this week that the tourist tax of 300 baht, to be levied on foreigners, would no longer be applied for “one or two years”, because the imperative is to get the number of tourists from the doldrums. The tax had been heavily criticized as not worthwhile. Security expert Colin Ross said Thai authorities had finally realized that filling out forms was a poor way to monitor foreigners. “Computerizing records and tracking people’s GPS location via mobile phones makes much more sense,” he said. He added that once virtual passports replace the paper version, travelers’ identities and biometrics will be stored in a cloud. No need to carry the passport or worry about it being stolen. But that’s still a few years away.