Thailand’s new six-month, multiple-entry tourist visas will become available on November 13 of this year.
The Foreign Ministry told all embassies, consulate-generals and honorary consuls worldwide to begin preparing for the visas, regulations for which were approved by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in August and published in the Royal Gazette in September.
Unlike current tourist visas, which offer one to three entries, the six-month multiple-entry visa will allow unlimited border crossings during the validity period. However, to prevent foreigners from essentially living in Thailand on tourist visas, each entry will have a limit of 60 days.
Amid the immigration crackdown that followed August’s Erawan shrine bombing, immigration agents on the Cambodian border and in Kanchanaburi have reportedly stopped even travellers with valid tourist visas from immediately leaving the country and re-entering to activate additional entries. The same border crossings had already stopped issuing additional 15- and 30-day visa-waiver stamps to “border runners” not holding tourist visas.
It’s unknown if the border problems currently plaguing tourist-visa holders will continue into November when the new six-month visas become available. But the tourism and foreign ministries are eager to get the new travel documents in use to promote tourism, which suffered after the August bombings.
Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said officials hope the new visa “will promote Thailand as a destination for weekend vacations and that business people will visit Thailand more often.”
Thailand has set a target of 28.8 million tourists this year, up from 24.7 million last year. The sector accounts for about 12 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.