24 November 2018
Thailand’s military government have backed plans to ease some visa regulations as part of a strategy to boost tourism. The initial pilot period for the new visa rules will run from November 15 until January 15, 2019. The situation will be reviewed again in mid-January.
In the past, new visa regulations like this have been slow to filter through to the various embassies and border checkpoints. More information should be available from the Thai embassy or consulate in your home country and on the official Thai Immigration website.
Doubly-entry tourist visa
Visitors applying for a single-entry visa between now and mid-January 2019 may be offered a double entry tourist visa for the same fee. The visas should be available from Thai embassies and consular offices outside of Thailand with a visa fee equivalent to 1,000 Baht
There is a change to the regulations for some foreign tourists entering Thailand via a land immigration checkpoint using visa exemptions. Under the old system there was a limit of two such land border crossings in a calendar year. According to the announcement in the Nation newspaper, it appears that this limit of two will now be lifted.**
**Update: November 29, 2018
A statement issued by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) newsroom contradicts The Nation. TAT state only passport holders from Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Singapore are entitled to unlimited entries at land crossings. Passport holders from other countries will still be restricted to two such crossings in a calendar year.
Visa on arrival
Thai authorities have also temporarily waived the visa on arrival fee of 2,000 Baht. This is aimed primarily at wooing Chinese tourists, but will also benefit passport holders form other countries who are covered by the visa on arrival scheme. In addition, an e-Visa on Arrival (E-VOA) system has been launched at Thailand’s international airports to streamline the whole process.
Tourists visiting Thailand’s neighbouring countries before returning to Thailand should also find it easier although the wording of the announcement in the Thai press is confusing. It appears that a re-entry permit will allow tourists to leave Thailand then come back without losing their original entitlement.
In an effort to boost tourist spending in malls, a new campaign has been launched under the title of Amazing Thailand Grand Sale Passport Privileges. This will run from November 15 to January 15. As part of that campaign, more VAT refund facilities will be opened up at shopping malls and Thailand’s international airports to make it easier for tourist to claim back tax on their purchases.