Thailand is moving to grant multiple-entry visas to all visitors from any country in a bid to boost tourism and drive the economy.
Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said yesterday that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has given the green light to the proposal, which is expected to go into effect within 60 days after receiving Cabinet approval.
Currently, citizens of 30-40 countries can enter the Kingdom without a visa, but some other nationals are required pay about Bt1,000 (S$39) to get a single-entry, 30-day visa.
Kobkarn said the new visa would allow holders to come into the country more than once, which is similar to what is applied by many other countries. The government plans to charge Bt5,000 for the six-month visa.
Tourism is the only industry that has continued growing in recent years while others are still suffering from the global economic slowdown.
Thailand is shooting for 28 million foreign travellers this year. Domestic and inbound tourism are expected to generate Bt2.2 trillion in revenue, or about 10 per cent of gross national product.
Last month saw 2.6 million arrivals, improving by 37 per cent from same month last year. China and Malaysia were the top source markets.
Development master plan
The Cabinet on Tuesday gave the nod to the Tourism Ministry's three-year tourism development master plan aimed at boosting quality tourists and promoting sustainable development.
It would also relax travel conditions and increase co-operation with other countries, particularly Thailand's neighbours.
Last week, Thailand and Myanmar agreed to waive entry visas at major airports for the citizens of the two nations journeying between the two countries by plane. They can stay up to 14 days.
The ministry will soon kick
off the development package including establishment of the Tourism Information Gateway to provide information to tourists before landing and while in the country.
The agency will also develop more attractions, train more human resources, increase security, publicise second-tier destinations and fill up business in the low season.
Last week, officials of five Mekong River riparian countries - Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia - met in Nay Pi Taw in Myanmar to discuss tourism co-operation under the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS).
The five nations are preparing to embark on the "Five Countries One Destination" campaign to boost travel to third countries.
Each country is assigned to lead one of seven areas including tourism marketing, product linkage, tourist exchange, tourism product development, tourism safety and private sector involvement.
The five nations will also facilitate visas and transportation, enhance capacity-building programmes for tourism professionals and tourism stakeholders, and champion green and responsible tourism in the ACMECS region.