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Thailand Relaxes Visa Regulations, Targets Record Arrivals
03 June 2024 | Written by Chris Alexander

Thailand is aiming for 40 million foreign arrivals by the end of the year – an achievement that would surpass tourism performance from the pre-pandemic era and signify the sector’s full recovery following the disruption caused by Covid-19. To deliver this ambitious target, the government has just announced it will relax visa regulations and extend periods of stay for key nationalities and demographic groups. 

On 28 May, government spokesperson Chai Wacharonke announced they have approved an extension to the permitted stay on tourist visas. Starting from June 2024, travellers from 93 countries will be allowed to stay in Thailand for a period of up to 60 days. A greater number of international passports will also be eligible for Visa on Arrival (VoA) services, according to the latest reports from the government (eligible source countries will be extended from 57 to 93). 

The announcement is also good news for students, digital nomads and retirees: international students will be allowed to stay for an additional year after graduation; insurance requirements for foreign pensioners will also be relaxed; and visas for self-employed, remote workers will be extended to five years, with individual stays limited to 180 days.  

By extending VoA stay limits from 30 to 60 days, Thai officials hope to boost inbound visitor numbers. From January to 26 May this year, Thailand recorded 14.3 million foreign tourists. Officials have set a target of 40 million foreign arrivals in total for 2024, with revenue of 3.5 trillion baht ($95.73 billion). If successful, this would represent a return to pre-pandemic levels of tourism (In 2019, Thailand welcomed a total of 39.9 million arrivals, generating 1.91 trillion baht). 

At the beginning of the year, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin of Thailand promised to support tourism growth by extending visa-free travel privileges to citizens of certain countries. The kingdom has already waived visa requirements for Chinese and Indian citizens, and is now opening its doors wider to the international travelling community. With more visitors expected in the summer months, the kingdom is on course to meet its targets.