It is no secret that tourist numbers in Pattaya were down on anticipated levels in 2019 with some reports suggesting that that figure was as high as 20%. There were several factors behind the lower number, such as the strength of the Thai Baht and some negative publicity in other areas of the country. Thai immigration had also imposed more significant restrictions on visas, although this mainly affected those living in the Kingdom. However, with the declining numbers being extremely damaging, it was decided that changes needed to be made, at least for tourists, to make things easier.
What is Proposed?
The “Double Entry Tourist Visa” will make it easier for tourists to stay in the country for longer as well as making trips to neighbouring countries in the region before returning for the rest of their holiday in Thailand. Although it has not be disclosed yet exactly when the rules will be introduced, it is anticipated that it will be in early 2020 and it will need to be applied for online. At the time of writing, it is hard to establish if the visa will be for 90-days or has the potential to be extended to make it 180-days.
What Impact Will it Have on Pattaya?
With Pattaya needing tourists to stay in the city longer to bring in much-needed revenue, any change is being viewed as positive. The low-season in 2019 was particularly tricky with many businesses closing their doors for good. If people can be encouraged to stay, with a double-entry tourist visa making this possible, it can only be a benefit. Anything that is seen to be welcoming people to Pattaya will help to dampen some of the adverse publicity and negativity spread by some expats.
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How Significant Will The Impact Be?
This is a complicated question to answer. Any impact can only be positive with no real downsides; it is merely facilitating people being able to stay for longer. Making it easier for people to stay longer than 30-days with a “Visa on Arrival” may have more impact and there is no getting away from the fact that the Thai Baht is so strong it makes the country expensive. Anyone, who thinks this will immediately have a significant impact on the number of visitors, maybe disappointed but at least it is a move in the right direction.
Is Anything Else Proposed?
Kobsak Pootrakul, the deputy secretary-general to the prime minister, has also suggested that two land borders will be opened 24-hours a day to make exit and entry into the Kingdom easier. The two borders are Nong Khai, a border with Laos and Sadao, a border with Malaysia although, in reality, this is unlikely to have much impact on tourists in Pattaya. However, the introduction of more VAT refund desks at Suvarnabhumi Airport may encourage tourists to spend more when they are here. It won’t increase numbers, but it may increase revenue for local businesses.
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