BANGKOK, Sept 15 — Thailand’s cabinet today approved in principle a special visa for foreign tourists to stay up to nine months in a bid to revive its tourism industry, which was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul said a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan O-Cha agreed to the plan proposed by the Tourism and Sports Ministry to welcome foreign visitors to stay in the kingdom for up to 270 days.
She said the visa, costing 2,000 baht, will be valid for an initial 90-day stay and it can be renewed twice.
She added that the long-term foreign visitors must undergo a 14-day quarantine at the state’s alternative quarantine facilities (hotel) upon arrival at the port of entry before being allowed to travel freely in the kingdom.
“We are targeting foreign tourists with high purchasing power to visit Thailand with their family members for a longer stay.
“It is a move to revive tourism and the related industries in the kingdom,” she said at a press conference here.
Besides undergoing compulsory quarantine, Traisuree said, foreign tourists must also adhere to other public health procedures throughout their stay in the kingdom.
The special tourist visa is expected to kick off next month, with up to 1,200 tourists allowed to enter the kingdom per month.
Thailand’s tourist arrivals fell 71 percent to 6.69 million while spending dropped 70.4 percent from a year earlier to 332 billion baht in the first seven months of this year.
Thailand is expected to receive eight million foreign tourists this year compared to 39.8 million tourists last year.
Meanwhile, Thailand today reported five new COVID-19 cases and zero fatalities, bringing the tally to 3, 480 cases with 58 deaths.