PM Srettha seeks extension to visa-free countries list for Thai passport

Photo courtesy of Matichon

Currently boasting entry to 34 nations without a visa, the Thai government is seeking to extend this list for Thai passport holders.

In a recent Cabinet meeting, Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavasin announced his pursuit of a much more powerful Thai passport that will extend the list of visa-free countries. Applauding recent expansions, including visa-free access to China, Russia, and India, the premier expressed particular delight in the Thai-Chinese agreement, solidifying visa exemptions for tourists in both directions.

Vice-president of the Thai Travel Agents Association, Phumiphiphat Meesamran, urged the government to press for additional visa exemptions with European nations, the UK, the US, and Australia. Despite these countries enjoying 30-day visa-free entry to Thailand, Thais face hurdles when seeking reciprocal access.

Phumiphiphat highlighted the potential boost to tourism and economic growth with visa-free access in both directions. Currently, western nations cite concerns about Thais overstaying without proper paperwork, insisting on proof of property ownership, significant employment, or other forms of wealth.

However, not everyone supports the Cabinet’s bold move. Sumate Sudasna, president of the Thailand and Convention Association, cautioned that visa-free access might still require special visas for tourists and businessmen. He emphasised the security risks associated with a wholesale abandonment of visas.

Supporting this viewpoint, evidence suggests some Thais pose as tourists in South Korea, working illegally as phi noi or little ghosts. Meanwhile, recent arrests of Chinese citizens in Thailand for illegal working raise concerns about the potential compromise of security, reported Pattaya Mail.

The Thai Chamber of Commerce chimed in, urging collaborative efforts between the government and private sector to strengthen international relationships. They believe that such efforts can propel the Thai passport to a higher global ranking.

As the premier pursues this passport revolution, it is worth noting that Singapore currently leads the pack, with its nationals enjoying visa-free access to a staggering 164 countries.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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