The cabinet yesterday approved extending the Smart Visa scheme to cover a total of 18 targeted industries, up from the existing 13, aiming to entice skilled workers, investors, executives and entrepreneurs to work or invest in Thailand.
According to government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri, the additional industries are national defence; those that facilitate the circular economy directly and significantly, such as fuel production from waste and water resources management; aviation and aerospace; technology innovation and startup ecosystem management; and targeted technology development and international business centres.
Over the past five years, Thailand has launched a series of initiatives to drive the economy through innovation.
In a move to attract talent and technologies with a view to further developing its targeted S-curve industries, the government designed the Smart Visa programme to enhance Thailand's attractiveness in drawing science and technology experts, senior executives, investors and startups. The programme was launched on Feb 1, 2018.
The Smart Visa is offered to foreign experts, executives, entrepreneurs and investors who wish to enter Thailand to work or invest in 13 S-curve industries.
The 13 existing targeted industries are: next-generation automotive; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; aviation and logistics; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; medical hub; smart electronics; food for the future; automation, robotics and alternative dispute resolution; human resources development in science and technology; and environmental management; renewable energy.
Smart Visa holders are granted a maximum four-year stay, an exemption from the work permit requirement and are entitled to additional privileges.
In a related development, Danucha Pichayanan, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Council, said on the sidelines of the weekly cabinet meeting the nation's economy remains on course to grow, supported by foreign direct investment (FDI), which is recovering after the easing of Covid-19 outbreaks.
The state planning unit's chief said FDI is expected to continue, as indicated by a large-scale investment by Chinese electric car manufacturer BYD in Thailand.
In addition, Mr Danucha said the country can expect more large-scale investments from world-class digital firms.
"We expect such large-scale foreign investment to continue over the next 2-3 years thanks to the government's support measures, including the long-term residence (LTR) visa scheme to lure wealthy foreigners and professionals to stay and work in Thailand," he said.
"This will help produce more sustainable revenue in the long term than is generated by tourism."
Mr Danucha said the greatest concern is the prospect of a global recession in 2023 and a likely general election next year, which may bring about changes to existing economic policies.
Thailand already has in place measures to lure wealthy foreigners and professionals as part of efforts to improve the economy.
The new LTR visa -- which kicked off on Sept 1 -- allows select non-Thais to stay in the kingdom for up to 10 years.
The visa offers a range of tax and non-tax benefits to attract new foreign residents, technologies and employees to stay or work in the country longer.