Visitors to Thailand from China and the CLMV nations (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) seeking medical treatment are now allowed to stay for up to 90 days visa-free, Deputy Prime Ministers Tanasak Patimapragon and Admiral Narong Pipatanasai announced on Wednesday.
And visitors age 50 and up from 14 other countries can apply for long-stay visas valid for up to 10 years.
Both measures are designed to fuel Thailand’s ambition to become a “medical and wellness” tourist destination and world-class medical hub.
As part of the Strategic Plan to Become a Medical Hub (2017-2026), the Cabinet has approved in principle the extended permission-to-stay for citizens of 19 countries identified as potential sources of medical tourists.
The Interior Ministry announced that visa-exempt entry for hospital care for patients from the CLMV countries and China who meet certain criteria is extended to 90 days effective immediately.
The same privilege – “meant to increase convenience of access to clinical care” – is also offered to as many as four people accompanying them.
Foreigners age 50 years or older from Britain, the United States, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, France, Australia, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, Finland, Denmark and Canada can apply for long-stay visas of up to 10 years.
Permission will initially be extended for five years, and an additional five years can be added for people who meet stated criteria and conditions.
The same privilege is offered to their spouse and children under 20.
The ministry said the measure would “hopefully lead to the increase of country income”.
The Public Health and Tourism and Sport ministries have been directed to work with relevant agencies in the public and private sectors to implement plans for developing the country’s medical-tourism capabilities.