Thailand will permit an extended length of stay for foreign tourists between October and March in a bid to support its economic recovery as pressures from Covid-19 ease, Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin said on Friday.
Foreigners from 18 territories coming to Thailand under the visa on arrival category will be allowed to double their length of stay for up to 30 days, Dr Taweesilp said.
Those from more than 50 places that currently get 30 days will be able to stay for up to 45 days. The country will extend the duration of its visa-on-arrival, which applies to nationals of India, China and Saudi Arabia, from 15 days to 30 days starting in October.
Thailand is hoping rising tourist arrivals will help boost its economic growth this year even though the pace is still expected to be the lowest in the Southeast Asia region.
Between Jan 1 and Wednesday, the country gained 176.3 billion baht (US$4.93 billion) in revenue from 3.78 million foreign arrivals.
Most were from Malaysia, India and Singapore. The number of tourists jumped 3,214% from the same period last year.
“We are looking to extending their stay,” the CCSA official said. “This will help boost tourist spending, revive the economy and reduce impact from the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this month, the government said the nation expects to attract 10 million international tourists this year, compared with the 6.1-million forecast in April.
The number of visitors is seen rising to 30 million people next year, still shy of the 40 million who travelled to the country in the year before Covid spread.
Thailand will downgrade Covid-19 from a “dangerous” communicable disease to one that “needs monitoring” starting from September, a month earlier than scheduled.
Last year, the foreign arrivals plummeted to just 428,000 because of the coronavirus pandemic, compared with a record of nearly 40 million in 2019, contributing to about 12% of GDP.
Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy expects 8 million to 10 million arrivals this year, above an earlier forecast of 7 million, according to the Ministry of Finance.