New 6-month visas begin Nov 13, but limit stays

New 6-month visas begin Nov 13, but limit stays

Tourists pass through the Khlong Yai immigration checkpoint before crossing the border to Koh Kong province in Cambodia. New six-month, multiple-entry tourist visas go into effect in November, but questions linger over whether border checkpoints will allow consecutive 60-day stays. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Tourists pass through the Khlong Yai immigration checkpoint before crossing the border to Koh Kong province in Cambodia. New six-month, multiple-entry tourist visas go into effect in November, but questions linger over whether border checkpoints will allow consecutive 60-day stays. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

Thailand’s new six-month, multiple-entry tourist visas will become available Nov 13, but will limit stays to 60 days at a time.

The Foreign Ministry on Friday 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 on Sept 14. The ministry publicly released details of the new visas on its Facebook page Tuesday.

Unlike current tourist visas, which offer from one to three entries, the six-month multiple-entry visa will allow unlimited border crossings during the validity period. However, to prevent foreigners from basically living in Thailand on tourist visas, each entry will be limited to 60 days.

The new multiple-entry visa will cost 5,000 baht, versus 1,000 baht for a single-entry, 60-day visa, which can be extended in-country for up to 30 days for an additional fee.

Border checkpoints frequently have been known to reject foreigners using consecutive tourist visas to permit lengthy stays in Thailand. And, amid the immigration crackdown that followed August's Erawan shrine bombing, immigration agents on the Cambodian border and in Kanchanaburi reportedly have stopped even those travellers with valid tourist visas from immediately leaving the country and re-entering to activate additional entries.

The same border crossings already had 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 up and running to spur tourism, which was impacted by last month's bombings.

Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said earlier that 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% of the country's gross domestic product.

Last month's Erawan shrine bombing is estimated to have cut the number of expected tourists by 1.33 million and cost the country 64 million baht in tourism revenue.


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