Tourists able to stay in Thailand for up to nine months under planned new ‘Longstay’ entry visa being proposed

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Research conducted in Phuket has shown that European visitors to the paradise island spend more. Last year, they accounted for 17% of passengers but were responsible for 24% of the money spent within the kingdom’s heavily dependent tourist economy.

The latest moves by Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, to reopen the kingdom include an emphasis on long-stay tourists. These moves will now include a visa that will allow ‘long stay’ tourists to Thailand to stay in the kingdom for up to 9 months with two renewals of an initial 90-day visa.

Thailand appears to be using the Covid 19 pandemic to test new concepts in tourism not only to deal with the current emergency but also, in the longer term, to move away from low expenditure per capita mass tourism which had already become a problem before this catastrophe.

In 2019, Thailand reached record levels of incoming tourists with over 38 million arrivals but questions were being raised, at the highest echelons, among economic experts and, at the grassroots, among an increasingly disgruntled Thai public.

It may look to the followers of Thailand outside the kingdom as, in many ways, a reversal of the previous government policy of penalising long-stay tourists. That’s because it is.

It may be the case that Thailand has discovered this market could be the key to building a new more successful tourism model.

Certainly, it is an answer to the tourism challenges in the post-Covid 19 world.

Tourism minister is changing the emphasis of Thailand’s tourism industry to target higher spenders

On Saturday, Minister of Tourism and Sports, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, expressed his support for long-stay tourism in Thailand as details emerged of a new visa which would apply to long-stay holidays booked with Thailand’s new tourism agency. Those approved would be granted an initial 90-day ‘long-stay’ visa to enter Thailand on an extended holiday including the full set of health requirements and a mandatory period in the alternative quarantine scheme.

The visa can be extended twice to stay on for a total of up to 270 days in Thailand or 9 months.

Mr Phiphat was speaking at an event in Samut Prakan in the presence of several foreign ambassadors and other invited guests from the travel trade and the media.

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