The Thai government needs to speed up work to establish a single visa among Asean members and the 10-country group’s six dialogue partners to enhance tourism within Asia, according to former tourism minister Weerasak Kowsurat.
“The presence of single visa in Asean that covers 10 countries plus six partners – China, South Korea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand – would be a big boon to intra-Asian tourism,” said Mr Weerasak, who is now the director of the International Institute for Trade and Development (ITD).
“The move will increase the free flow of visitors within the region, particularly visitors from China, and reinforce the government’s policy to raise income from the service sector. ”
A recent report by the China Tourism Academy (CTA) estimated that as many as 54 million Chinese travellers would go abroad this year, up from 47 million in 2009.
The UN World Tourism Organisation estimates that China will be the world’s fourth-largest source of outbound tourists by 2020, with 100 million overseas visits.
Spotting the huge market potential, many countries are striving to lure more free-spending Chinese visitors.
The Asean Economic Community (AEC) is supposed to take effect in 2015, but members have yet to settle an agreement to introduce a single visa to Asean for travellers from outside the bloc. Citizens of Asean countries can travel visa-free within the bloc.
Now Thailand is facing a recurring problem : foreign travelers, who live almost permanently on Thai territory with tourist visas, renewed indefinitely with the so called “visa runs”. New measures are being implemented to fight this situation, less tolerated by the immigration service
First of all it is important not to confuse “tourist visa” and “visa waiver”. The confusion is common among travelers who come to spend holidays in Thailand: the stamp on your passport on arrival at the airport is not a visa, but a visa waiver, which is strictly limited to 30 days. Members of the European Community, entering Thailand for tourist reasons, are exempt from entry visa: it is the “transit without visa”, a formality for free, but limited in time. On the contrary, a Tourist Visa MUST be obtained from a Thai consulate abroad, before entering Thailand. Tourist Visa is valid for 60 days and may be extended to an additional 30 days.
Now this kind of Visa is also under pressure by Thai immigration if you intend to use repeatedly. In a crackdown on the 60-days tourist visas, several Royal Thai Embassies and Consulates has announced increased screening of tourist visa applicants.
A visa can be granted for working purpose for a renewable period of 1 year provided that the foreign applicant is
1) holding a Non-immigrant B visa and a work permit;
2) employed by a company with a registered capital fully paid-up of not less than 2 million Baht;
3) employed by a company that has submitted its financial statements at the end of its last fiscal year duly certified by an auditor showing a sound financial situation;
4) employed by a company that has a minimum quota of 4 Thai employees per foreign employee (exception of 1 Thai employee per foreign employee for representative offices, regional offices and trading branches).
The applicant must also receive a consistent income, which may vary depending on its nationality (from 25,000 Baht per month for Burmese or Vietnamese to 50,000 Baht per month for Japanese or Australian).