Thailand Easing Visa Rules in Aim to Draw 1 Million Foreigners


Thailand aims to attract 1 million “high-potential” foreigners through an overhaul of visa rules that will boost investment and help the tourism-dependent economy, the government said.

The Cabinet approved the easing of the country’s immigration policies to attract more long-stay foreigners, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Tuesday. Target groups include high-net-worth individuals, retirees, remote workers and skilled talent in sectors such smart electronics and robotics.

The government expects these groups to generate about 1 trillion baht ($30.4 billion) of new spending to the economy from 2022 to 2026, plus provide 800 billion baht in investments and 270 billion baht in tax revenue. The visa program is another government effort designed to restart an economy that’s been hit by pandemic-related travel restrictions, with millions of jobs lost in the process. 

Those qualified for one of the revised visas will be exempted from a current rule that requires foreigners to report to immigration authorities every 90 days. Other changes include allowing some foreigners to work in Thailand regardless of their employer’s location and easing the Thai-to-foreigner staff ratio, which is generally four-to-one. 

Other revisions being mulled by various state agencies are offering foreigners more rights to own property or land. 

Thailand also plans to waive quarantine requirements for vaccinated international travelers arriving via its tourism magnets Bangkok and Chiang Mai starting in October after a reopening experiment in Phuket tallied about 30,000 people since July. 

In 2019, before the pandemic, Thailand welcomed nearly 40 million visitors from abroad, generating $60 billion in revenue to Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy.