Thailand OKs 30-day visa extension to tourists from 49 markets

Thailand OKs 30-day visa extension to tourists from 49 markets
Dancers perform on the streets of Bangkok in a bid to boost tourism.

Thailand's Immigration Bureau has authorised 30-day extensions to tourist visas for residents of 48 countries and one territory (Hong Kong) in an effort to shore up tourism numbers hurt by the political crisis.

The policy took effect Friday. The bureau did not say how long it would continue, but it is likely to carry on through the rest of the year.

Earlier, the government granted a three-month visa-fee exemption for tourists from mainland China and Taiwan as another attempt to revive tourism.

Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Thawatchai Arunyik said the latest move would help increase the number of international visitors as well as those coming for niche-market activities such as volunteer travel, health and wellness, or sports.

Visitors can obtain the visa extension at immigration offices nationwide. The application process will cost 1,900 baht (US$59.56) per person.

Thawatchai said the 49 source markets in question generated about half of Thailand's total visitor arrivals, or roughly 13 million, last year.

Piyaman Tejapaibul, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said the policy would help attract a lot more tourists into the Kingdom and would restore the entire tourism sector.

"However, she urged the government to invest in Advance Passenger Processing machines at all entry points to prevent illegal immigrants or those on a blacklist from getting into the country.

Holders of the following passports are eligible for the visa extensions: Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Peru, the Philippines, Portugal, Poland, Qatar, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam.

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