Added visa for tourism promotion

Foreigners will get 45 days from October 1

Visitors at the immigration checkpoint at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Samut Prakan province. (Photo: Vichan Charoenkitpakul)

The Center for the Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has approved extended visas for foreign visitors to the country from October 1 to March 31 as part of an effort to revive the economy while the pandemic subsides, the agency said on Friday.

Those with regular visas will be able to stay from the current 30 to 45 days, while the visa-on-arrival period will be extended from 15 to 30 days, said CCSA spokesperson Tavisilp Visanuyothin.

“We are looking to extend their stay as this will help boost tourist spending, revive the economy and mitigate the impact of the pandemic,” Dr Tawisilp said.

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports has projected that the number of foreign tourists will reach 10 million this year. He said that from January 1 to August 16, more than four million foreign tourists visited Thailand.

Dr Taweesilp said the government will declare a Covid-19 pandemic in October and CCSA will not be the main agency to deal with the disease after that.

He said that this disease will be under the Emergency Surgery Center of the Ministry of Public Health and the Provincial Communicable Disease Committee from October.

From November, only national and provincial committees will be its working bodies. He said that the infected will be kept in isolation according to the instructions of the Medical Services Department.

Dr Tavisilp said that the infected person will be kept in isolation according to the instructions of the Medical Services Department.

The decision to declare the disease endemic was based on a relatively limited number of severe cases and associated deaths.

“The goal is for people to be able to safely coexist with Covid-19 and lead normal lives,” said Dr Tawisilp.

The current Covid-19 situation is at the green level, with 2,000-3,999 patients and 11-39 deaths per day and 201-399 patients dependent on ventilators, while clusters of infections are limited, he said.

The numbers are not high but new cases are increasing due to the spread of the BA.5 sub-variant of the Omicron strain. “The disease itself has subsided,” said Dr Tavisilp.

Surveys conducted in April and May showed that more than 90% of people have antibodies against the virus, while other studies have found that three shots of any Covid-19 vaccine reduce the chance of serious illness and death by more than 90%, he added.

Cases of Covid-19 will be similar to influenza, and there will be new cases throughout the year, he said.

He said the CCSA had not considered whether to lift the state of emergency with the downgrading of Covid-19 on Friday.

Speaking after presiding over a meeting of the CCSA on Friday, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha said the agency was not yet considering revoking the emergency order imposed to contain the epidemic.

“This [the decree] There is still a need to integrate the functions of various agencies. The Ordinance is not intended for any other purpose. This is only to ensure that the public is safe from Covid-19,” General Prayuth said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dawn Pramudwinai said the CCSA had not discussed removing it. Asked if it would be maintained until the APEC meeting in Bangkok in November, Mr Don said it would not be a problem as many foreign agencies have met in Thailand.

Asked before the APEC meeting whether the order would affect the country’s image, he said any protest would not create a good atmosphere.

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