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Posts Tagged ‘Free Thai Tourist Visa’

15th April 2010

In a recent posting of the website ThaiVisa.com, the issue of Thai tourist was discussed in the context of Thai Immigration. Frequent readers of this blog will remember that until March of this year, Thai Tourism officials, in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had been granting tourist visas to Thailand free of charge. Apparently, this program is to be extended. The following is quoted from ThaiVisa.com:

“The Ministry of Tourism and Sports has extended tourism stimulus measures for one year until 31 March 2011 to assist tourism related entrepreneurs who were affected from the demonstration of the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD). Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpol Silapa-archa announced on Thursday that the ministry has resolved to extend the assistance measures to help tourism related entrepreneurs while road show activities must be organized on a continuous basis to further stimulate tourism. The stimulus measures include the exemption of visa fees for foreign tourists, travel insurance for foreign tourists of not more than 10,000 USD, low interest rate loans, and extension of loan payment periods.”

Hopefully, these measures will provide a benefit to Thailand’s struggling tourism sector which will likely be adversely impacted by the unrest in Bangkok that has occurred over the recent weeks. The report went on:

“The minister added that the number of tourists travelling [sic] into Thailand at airports in general have not decreased, but on the other hand, is more than the number in the same period last year because the figure last year was very low. Mr Chumpol admitted that tour bookings in Bangkok would be affected from the mass rally of the UDD now taking place at Ratchaprasong Intersection. However, those in other areas, especially in the southern islands of Phuket and Samui would not be affected.”

This author would argue that although Tourism has been impacted by recent events in Thailand. There may be another explanation for the seemingly lower tourism figures (or at least the lower numbers of people pursuing Thai Tourist visas). One of the causes could be the fact that more and more tourists in Thailand are “Long Stay” tourists, meaning that they prefer to remain for 3,6, 9, or even 12 months at a time. Many such travelers prefer to come to Thailand using an O visa as such a visa can be granted with a validity as long as one year. Others prefer to use a Thailand business visa. A Thai business visa provides the benefit of creating a foundation for a Thai work permit application should the need for such documentation arise. Although an individual present in the Kingdom on a business visa does not strictly meet the definition of “tourist,” many people come to Thailand using a “B” visa and conduct business meetings in Thailand before pursuing more recreational activities.

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23rd March 2010

This author has been increasingly asked about the impact of recent political demonstrations upon those living in Bangkok. From personal experience, this author must admit that the demonstrations have had little or no impact upon living conditions in Bangkok. That being said, it appears that the recent protests are having an effect upon the Thai tourist industry.

In a recent posting on Thaivisa.com the issue of the protests and the detrimental effect they are having on the Tourism industry was discussed:

“The Thai Hotels Association said Thursday that room cancellations in Bangkok have been made at about 1,000 rooms per day, although the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has assessed Red Shirt demonstration in the capital has not had a great impact on tourism so far. Thai Hotels Association director Sakrin Chorsawai said the demonstration has affected tourism operators, particularly in hotel businesses in Bangkok. A significant drop in the number of foreign tourists was seen and room reservations fell some 10-20 per cent. About 1,000 rooms were canceled daily on average as tourists feared possible violence during the mass demonstrations, in particular from March 12-23, Mr Sakrin said. However, tourism operators in other regions have not been affected, and are enjoying a normal rate of hotel bookings, he said. Local tourists, who are worried about the political situation, do not travel. If the demonstration is prolonged, its negative effects on tourism will be clearly seen, said Mr Sakrin. Meanwhile, TAT director Surapol Svetasreni said the tourism in January and February had recovered but since the Red Shirt protest began in Bangkok last week, the national agency is vigilant on the current situation to alleviate and to minimise possible effects on tourism. TAT’s promotional campaign this year still focuses on overseas roadshows and targets the number of foreign tourists at 15 million people in 2010.”

Although room cancellations may be attributable to the protests, this author believes that other factors may explain the recent downturn in Thai tourism overall. In a previous post, it was noted that the free Thai tourist visa scheme had come to an end. Subsequent to that posting, it was reported that the Thai visa fee waiver would go back into effect for Tourist visas beginning on April 1st of 2010. However, this left a window of about one month in which Thai tourist visas would not be granted free of charge. There is a possibility that some of those planning to tour Thailand are awaiting the re-institution of the free tourist visa scheme. This is mere speculation on the part of this author, but it may be the case.

For more information about Thai Immigration generally please see: Thailand visa.

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3rd March 2010

As readers of this blog may recall from a previous post, the Thai authorities recently announced that the fee waiver for Thai tourist visas was ending in March of this year. However, ThaiVisa.com has recently reported that the tourist visa waiver program is to be re-instituted in April of this year. Apparently, the positive impact upon the tourism sector is one of the underlying reasons for the extension of this program:

“Less than one month after Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed Thaivisa.com that the free tourist visa scheme would end on March 5, 2010, the Thailand Government has announced the tourism stimulus package will continue for another year, including $US10,000 in free riot insurance for tourists. The extension of the tourism industry stimulus package was approved by the cabinet today, March 2, 2010 in response to a request from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. The extension will be effective from April 1, 2010 and go through to March 31, 2011 and appears to leave a three and a half week window in which tourist visas for Thailand will be charged for.”

As some may recall from another previous post on this blog, many Royal Thai Embassies, Consulates, and  Honorary Consuls around the world were unhappy with the no-cost tourist visa scheme as the funds previously accrued from processing tourist visas were no longer being paid. How this recent announcement will impact the Honorary Consulates as well as the Embassies and Consulates-General remains to be seen.

Another interesting aspect of the recent announcement is the fact that foreign nationals are also to be provided with no-cost riot insurance as part of this new program to revitalize the Thai tourist industry. To further quote from ThaiVisa.com:

“The $10,000 free riot insurance coverage was introduced last year and initiated by the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) in response to international insurance firms’ refusal to sell insurance coverage to visitors to Thailand following the 2008 closure of Thailand airports by members of the Peoples Alliance for Democracy (PAD). When the insurance coverage was first introduced last year, Kongkrit Hiranyakit, president of TCT, said the government had set aside Bt190.75 million ($US5.820 million) for the initial six month period covering May to October, 2009, with the Ministry of Tourism and Sports responsible for paying the insurance premium of $1 per visitor. The insurance policy provides for payments of up to $10,000 in the event of death, injury, and/or trip inconvenience, and appears to only cover people in possession of a 60-day tourist visa. Resident expatriates living and working in Thailand on non-immigrant visas do not appear to be covered for death, injury or inconvenience caused by riots.”

It will be interesting to see if the provision of this insurance will cause any stir among foreign residents as all of those who do not have Thai Permanent Residence are technically considered non-immigrants and therefore only “temporarily” staying in the Kingdom. This even applies to those with a Foreign Tabien Baan (also know as a Yellow Tabien Baan) as these registrations are specifically noted as “temporary.” Even though all non-residents are classified as non-immigrants, the category of the visa determines the privileges that will be extended to the visa holder. Therefore, those with a Thai business visa are entitled to file for a Thai work permit while those holding a tourist visa are not accorded that privilege. As a result, the provision of riot insurance could be viewed as as specific privilege that is only accorded to those holding certain types of Thai visas.

For further information about Thai Immigration please see: Thai visa.

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