Thailand has come up with a new visa scheme in a bid to boost its medical tourism sector. On Tuesday, the Thai Cabinet extended to 10 years from one, the long-stay visa for foreigners aged 50 or older.
The visa will be valid initially for five years and can be renewed for another five, Colonel Apisit Chaiyanuwat, vice-minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, said. The visa fee is 10,000 baht (S$400), he added.
Apart from the age requirement, the new visa requires eligible foreigners to have a monthly income of at least 100,000 baht or a bank deposit of at least 3 million baht, to be maintained for at least one year after receiving the visa.
Besides, they must have health insurance coverage for at least US$1,000 (S$1,430) for outpatient care, and US$10,000 or more for inpatient care per policy per year.
Eligible travellers will also be required to report to the immigration police every 90 days.
The new visa seeks to promote medical and wellness tourism in line with the government’s policy. Target groups for the visa are long-stay visitors from Australia, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Taiwan and the United States, Col Apisit said.
Between 1.3 million and 1.8 million medical tourists visited Thailand in 2015. Medical tourism generated 107 billion baht in revenue in 2014, according to the latest Thai government estimate.
Recognising the importance of healthcare to the Thai economy, the government drafted a 10-year plan to promote the sector. As part of the plan, patients from China, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam and a number of Middle Eastern nations seeking medical treatment in Thailand can stay in the country without a visa for up to 90 days