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Thailand's aggressive push to attract tourists through these visa promotions highlights its commitment to reviving the tourism sector and ensuring long-term economic stability.

In an effort to attract more tourists and remote workers, the Thai cabinet this week rolled out a series of new visa promotions, including visa-free and visa-on-arrival schemes, extended stays for students, and reduced compulsory health insurance for retirees.

Starting June 1, the number of countries eligible for visa-free entry to Thailand will increase from 57 to 93. Under the new scheme, visitors can stay in Thailand for up to 60 days, compared to the earlier limit of 30 days.

The countries eligible for visa-free stays include key tourism markets like China and India, as well as U.S., UK, Albania, UAE, Cambodia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Laos, Mexico, Morocco, Panama, Romania, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan.

The Thai cabinet has also approved visa-on-arrival for 31 countries, up from the previous 19. This list includes Armenia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Fiji and Malta

Government spokesperson Chai Wacharonke emphasized the importance of tourism to Thailand’s national economy and its role in job creation. From January to May 26 this year, Thailand recorded 14.3 million tourists and aims to reach a record 40 million foreign arrivals for the full year, with an expected revenue of THB 3.5 trillion ($95.73 billion).

In comparison, 2019 saw a record 39.9 million arrivals, generating THB 1.91 trillion in revenue.

New Measures for Students and Digital Nomads

In a bid to retain talent, postgraduate students will now be able to stay in Thailand for an additional year after graduation, provided they obtain certification from the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation.

This extension aims to help foreign students secure employment in the country. According to Wacharonke currently there are approximately 40,000 such students in Thailand

Digital nomads will also benefit from the new visa policies. The “Destination Thailand Visa” will now be valid for five years, allowing a 180-day maximum stay per visit, extendable for another 180 days, with another THB 10,000 ($270) fee.

Previously, digital nomads were entitled to only two 30-day stays. Wacharonke noted that this measure targets remote workers, freelancers, and those interested in learning Muay Thai and Thai cuisine.

Eased Requirements for Retirees

Retirees aged 50 years or more seeking long-stay visas will benefit from reduced health insurance requirements. Currently, these visitors must have health insurance coverage worth THB 3 million ($82,000). The requirement is now lowered to THB 440,000 ($12,000), effective for applicants from September to December. Additionally, the cabinet approved the expansion of e-visa application services at Thai consulates and embassies, increasing from 47 to 94 locations starting in September.

Targeting Key Source Markets

China and India are among the largest and most important source markets for global tourism, and Thailand is keen to capture the interest of travelers from these countries.

Data firm ForwardKeys noted a 212% surge in travel from China to Kazakhstan during this year’s Labor Day holiday, with notable increases to Singapore, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, and the Maldives, following the relaxation of visa policies.

While Thailand and China have agreed on a reciprocal permanent visa exemption, Skift had earlier reported that Thailand’s slower recovery is attributed to ongoing safety concerns.

India is also a critical market for Thailand, being the fastest-growing source of tourists. In 2023, over 1.6 million Indian travelers visited Thailand, making it the fourth-largest source market for the country. These tourists contributed more than THB 63 billion ($1.7 billion) in spending.

In November last year, Thailand decided to grant visa-free entry to Indian citizens from November 10 till May this year. The Thai cabinet this month approved a plan to extend the visa exemption for six more months.


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Tags: asia monthly, china outbound, digital nomads, dwell, e-visas, india outbound, students, thailand, visa waiver

Photo credit: Thailand is making a concerted effort to attract more tourists and remote workers by rolling out a series of new visa promotions. Darren Lawrence / Unsplash

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