The Minister of Tourism and Sports in Thailand has announced the approval of the Thai Government to begin the process of setting up the eVisa system in Thailand for tourists. Following a recent Ministry Cabinet meeting, the Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul revealed that the introduction of the electronic visa is set for the end of 2018.
Launch of the Thai e-Visa
After the government’s official confirmation it is important for the Thai Department of Foreign Affairs to work closely with the Immigration Office in Thailand. They will need to collaborate to begin preparations for the launch of the e-Visa which must be fully developed and functional by the end of 2018.
Updating the Visa System in Thailand
The President of the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC), David Scowsil, indicated his support for the implementation of the electronic system for visa issuance in Thailand. He also requested that other countries who have not yet done so, follow suit by updating the traditional paper visa procedure to the more efficient and safer electronic visa scheme.
Scowsil stated that “the WTTC focus is on electronic visas, freedom and the right to travel.” He also mentioned that “Visas are required by 58% of the world’s 1.2 billion population and they still need a paper visa...they are required to queue and pay for a visa, it’s a crazy out-dated system.”
The new eVisa system would mean a decrease in visa fee revenue from Thai consulates and embassies around the world. Therefore, the system must have approval of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to go ahead.
Electronic Visa Systems
The eVisa for Thailand proposal comes after a prior suggestion for a single visa for the ASEAN region. This proposal has been under consideration since 2013. The single-visa would be similar to the future ETIAS and the European Schengen area agreement. It would allow freedom of movement within the specific borders for eligible citizens.
The ASEAN single visa would provide the possibility for travelers to visit Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Vietnam and Thailand after obtaining just one visa. Several of these countries already have an electronic visa system in place. Therefore, Thailand will not be the first nor the last to make the change.