Last updated: 02:00 PM ET, Mon November 16 2015

Savvy Thailand Targets Weekend Tourists With Multiple Entry Visas

Destination & Tourism | Josh Lew | November 16, 2015

Savvy Thailand Targets Weekend Tourists With Multiple Entry Visas

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Thailand’s tourism industry is still going strong despite the country's problems with political unrest and the recent bombings in Bangkok. Now, Thai authorities want to make it even easier for tourists to enter the Land of Smiles, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently announced that it will be offering a new kind of tourist visa in the near future. 

All international travelers will be able to apply for a six-month, multiple-entry tourist visa. The cost will be 5,000 baht, which is approximately US$139. Citizens of some countries, such as the U.S., can simply get a visa-on-arrival when they get to Thailand. For travelers from India, however, the immigration process is not quite so simple.  

Targeting travelers from the Subcontinent 

Thailand is becoming a popular destination for travelers from the subcontinent. Because of its relative proximity and cheap prices, the Kingdom is a favorite weekend getaway spot for Indians. The new visa is aimed at making it easier for these travelers to enter the country. 

The process of applying for the multiple-entry visa is a bit more complex than merely showing up at the airport and having your passport stamped. However, once approved, visa-holders can choose to travel to Thailand on a whim for the weekend without having to apply for a visa online or visit the local Thai consulate first. 

Visa-holders can enter and leave as often as they want during the six month period. There is one small catch: in order to be approved, travelers must show that they have at least two trips planned to Thailand during the next half-year. 

Automatically creates a pool of repeat visitors 

The goal seems to be to create a new pool of repeat visitors. Rather than spreading their holidays around the region, Indian travelers with the new multiple-entry tourist visas will choose Thailand by default because they are already approved to travel there. These people can have their annual family vacation during one trip and perhaps return when they have a long weekend vacation from work. 

Travelers from North America, Australia and Europe don’t really need this type of visa if they are using Thailand as a base for exploring the region “backpacker-style.” A standard 30-day stamp is usually sufficient. This can be renewed for an additional 30 days at the local immigration office (a pretty painless process compared to what it is in some other countries). Longer non-immigrant visas are available for people who want to stay in Thailand for more than a month or two without having to make a “visa run” to a neighboring country to refresh the stamp.  

An example of Thailand's savvy approach to tourism

Chinese nationals may be able to benefit from the six-month visas as well (though people from Hong Kong and Macau can get 30-day stamps on arrival). Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Burmese travelers don’t qualify for a visa-on-arrival, so travelers from these countries may also benefit.   

People who want to know why Thailand remains successful as a tourist destination should look at this new visa policy as an example of the Kingdom’s savvy, smart approach to tourism. It gives visa-on-arrival benefits to people without giving everyone from the country access to a passport stamp. Also, it encourages these travelers to come to Thailand multiple times during the lifespan of the visa. 

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