Multiple-entry six-month visas should boost tourism
The Ministry of Tourism and Sport is enthusiastic about the possibilities for longer-term tourism numbers to rise following the official introduction of multiple-entry visas which will be effective for six months for those who take advantage of them.
The new visa will allow tourists to come and go in and out of Thailand for up to six months on the one visa, thereby allowing people who are interested in visiting neighbouring countries such as Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, to do so without having to obtain another visa for a re-entry into Thailand.
The multiple-entry visa will be priced at 5,000 baht, while the present figure for a single-entry visa is 1,000 baht.
Tourism this year has bounced back strongly in the first seven months with 17.5 million arrivals, an increase of 30.7 percent on 2014 and with revenue from tourists growing by 30 percent to 818 billion baht.
The target for the year is set at 29 million visitors and revenue of 1.4 trillion baht, up from 24.8 million arrivals in 2014 and returns of 1.13 trillion baht. The tourism economy is the one bright spot in an otherwise gloomy sea of economic data for Thailand.
Whether the six-month multiple-entry visa plan actually proves a boon for tourism over the longer term may take some time to determine. Travellers tend to make plans some time in advance, and the lag time between the introduction of this new visa regime and its actual impact on the travelling marketplace is likely to be some months yet. At this stage, the multiple-entry visa plan has only been given a shelf life of one year, although if it does make a difference to the long-term bottom line for the industry you would have to think it would be extended and possibly further improved.
The Tourism Ministry has also announced that it will be proposing a strategic tourism development plan to the National Tourism Policy Committee. The key points from this plan are ways of generating tourist revenue, especially for local communities and, yet again, that seemingly unquantifiable and ever-elusive desire to attract so-called ‘quality’ tourists.
The plan comprises three strategies: tourism product and service development; tourism management; and marketing.
It seems the tourism authorities have determined that Thailand’s local communities can handle greater numbers of tourist arrivals, making the spread of the tourist baht go further and wider.
Nonetheless, the key is to ensure that development remains sustainable within all communities, with self-sufficiency being the long-term goal. If the Tourism Ministry can indeed spread the tourism baht further and wider of the usual tourism hot spots like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket and the like, it augurs well for the long-term viability of the market in Thailand.