Prayut looks to lift emergency decree, extend visa exemption and visa on arrival to boost tourism

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The Thai government said it is considering the lifting of the nationwide emergency decree that has been in place since 2020. It also decided to extend the visa exemption for up to 45 days along with visa on arrival for up to 30 days for a period of six months to help boost tourism.

The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), a body set up by the government to handle the Covid-19 related issues, said that it has approved a proposal to extend the visa exemption and the visa on arrival for 15 days over a period of six months.

“The extensions for tourists would increase tourism income and encourage tourists to travel around the country,” said Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin, CCSA’s spokesman.

The proposals that were approved include:

  • Extending the visa exemption for nationalities from 56 selected countries from no more than 30 days to 45 days
  • Extending the visa on arrival for nationalities that could not get the visa exemption from no more than 15 days to 30 days

The extensions will last from October 1, 2022, until March 31, 2023. The Interior Ministry and Foreign Ministry are now in charge of making the preparation and announcement for the extensions.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the agency that had put forward the proposals, said in June that the extensions would encourage tourists to take longer trip in the country which is in line with the current trend where the average spending per visitor had increased from 47,000 baht to 77,000 Baht.

Taweesin said the country is looking to downgrade Covid from a “serious communicable disease” to a “communicable disease under surveillance” by September.

CCSA’s advisor, Dr Udom Kachintorn, said after the meeting on Friday, that the country is reporting around 2,000 new Covid cases within the medical system per day and around 30,000 people are testing positive via ATK tests per day.

However, if the number of cases that went underreported is counted then the real number of new cases could be around 60,000 to 70,000 per day but this number is still medically manageable.

Udom said he expect the number to drop by October and if there are less than 1,000 new hospitalized Covid cases per day and there are 10 people who died from Covid per day by then, that would be acceptable and the decree could be lifted.

The CCSA reported 2,110 new hospitalized Covid cases and 27 related death on Friday.

State of Emergency Decree

The government said that was considering the lifting of the nationwide state of emergency decree for Covid-19 in October.

Prime Minister Prayut said after the CCSA meeting which he chaired on Friday that the government is considering the lifting of the nationwide state of emergency decree that was put in place to prevent the spread of Covid.

“We are considering it,” Prime Minister Prayut told reporters after the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA)’s meeting.

“The decree is still in place as a backup and I am not looking to use it for anything else but to provide safety amid the Covid situation,” he said.

The state of emergency decree came into effect since March 2020. Critics said that the government is no longer using it to prevent the spread of Covid but instead the government was using to arrest dissidents.

According to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, at least 1,465 political activists and protesters were charged with the violation of the decree since the latest pro-democracy movement started in June 2020.

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