One-year treatment visa to boost Thailand's stature as medical hub

By Hoang Phong   November 15, 2022 | 10:57 pm PT
One-year treatment visa to boost Thailand's stature as medical hub
People arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, November 1, 2021. Photo by Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun
The Thai government plans to introduce a one-year visa for patients seeking medical treatment to cement its position as a regional medical hub.

The new type of visa that allows multiple entries is expected to be launched on Jan. 1 next year, Bangkok Post reported, citing Deputy Government spokesperson Tipanan Sirichana on Tuesday.

Applicants will need to produce evidence of a hospital appointment, health insurance and proof of adequate financing for treatments covering at least 800,000 baht ($22,364).

Tourists applying for this visa must have health conditions that hospitals in Thailand can treat and require more than 90 days of medical treatment.

Thailand currently allows tourists seeking medical treatment entry on a tourist or a non-immigrant visa.

The exemption is for visitors from six countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. All are single entry.

Thailand, one of the first countries in Southeast Asia to fully reopen its tourism industry, welcomed about 7.35 million foreigners in the first 10 months this year.

It expects to attract 10 million foreigners this year.

Vietnam opened its doors partially to foreign tourists with tour packages to specific destinations in November 2021, before fully opening up on March 15.

However, it has stopped issuing multi-entry visas for three months or longer, and is only issuing 30-day, single entry visas now.

Both tourists and tourism businesses have called for the Vietnamese government to reinstate its pre-pandemic visa policy to compete with Southeast Asian neighbors.

In 2018, around 300,000 who were overseas Vietnamese, residents in nearby countries such as Cambodia and Laos, and foreigners working in Vietnam, were treated at Vietnamese hospitals, generating revenues of about $1 billion, according to the Ministry of Health.

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