Thailand’s healthcare and wellness business is expected to grow following the initiation of the Thai government’s visa extension scheme for people from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam (CLMV) and China, who go to the country for medical treatment.
The government is also extending long-stay, 10-year visas for citizens of 14 countries: Japan, Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, the UK, Canada and the US.
The visa extensions are intended to enhance Thailand’s position as a world-class medical tourism hub, Noppadon Pakprot, the deputy governor for tourism products and business at the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), told the Bangkok Post.
The Thai government last month extended the stay for medical tourists from CLMV countries and China from 30 to 90 days. The extended stay will also be applicable for up to four companions per patient.
“Patients from these countries are the second group to be granted permission to stay in Thailand for 90 days. The government had previously granted longer visas to people from Gulf Cooperation Council countries,” the report said. Previously, people from those countries could only stay in Thailand for one month.
For the extended 10-year scheme, eligible foreigners will at first receive a permit to stay in Thailand for five years, which can later be extended for another five years, said Noppadon. The permit would also be applicable for their spouses and children up to 20 years old.
Separately, Cambodia and Thailand are keen to facilitate tourism by implementing a single visa for third countries in a grouping known as the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy, or ACMES. The ACMECS comprises Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
All ACMECS members are part of ASEAN and the ACMECS single visa is expected to pave the way for an ASEAN common visa. Thailand and Cambodia will push for the use of border passes for provinces along the border and facilitate the ASEAN lane along international border checkpoints.
A joint statement issued after a meeting between ministers from the two countries stated that Cambodia and Thailand promised to use all means and activities to jointly promote the campaign of “Two Kingdoms, One Destination” for Cambodia and Thailand. The countries were also pushing investments in tourism, especially in main destinations, and connected travel by sea and the coastal areas.