The Royal Thai Government is considering updates to the existing rules governing expats and long-stay tourists. These updates are intended to encourage foreigners to participate in tourism as well as make investments in the country as soon as the pandemic ends.
The details are yet to be finalized, but one of the proposed changes is to remove the 90-day reporting before immigration. This requirement, while useful, is unpopular among foreigners in Thailand. The online filing system used amidst the pandemic has also been experiencing problems since the past month.
The website currently offers no information to tourists and expats as to when the website will be restored to full working condition. This means that expats are unable as of the moment to update immigration on their location in the Kingdom, and face-to-face reporting is currently impossible because of the pandemic.
With the 90-day reporting still in place, analysts are seeing the existing immigration rules as part of the difficulties that foreigners living in Thailand faces every three months.
Government task force chief Chayotid Kridakorn describes these rules as a “key pain point” for foreign workers in Thailand. This time around, Mr. Chayotid said, the government is seeking ways to ease these foreigners’ difficulties so they can continue to work and live in Thailand with no problem.
Mr. Chayotid’s task force is assigned to find ways to make investment easier and smoother for foreigners in Thailand.
The government recognizes the need to streamline processes for foreign investors, who can bring in skilled talent from abroad, as well as retirees looking to live out the rest of their lives in Thailand. These individuals, in addition to international tourists, make a significant contribution to Thailand’s economy.
With the economy continuing to shrink with recovery only possible in the middle of next year, these investors are key to cushioning the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product.
According to Mr. Chayotid, they have begun formulating the framework for a better investment and tourism process. His task force plans to propose the finished framework to the Center for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) within this month.
In addition to possibly relaxing rules on 90-day reporting, the plan is also to introduce changes to rules in immigration, visa applications, and the issuance of work permits for foreign workers.
The framework will also propose changes that can help encourage more investment from foreigners. These include changes to restrictions governing property holdings, reductions in corporate income tax, and incentives for retirees and small companies.
With these changes, Mr. Chayotid said that they are aiming to attract 1 million expatriates to come and live in Thailand for the long term. The task force chief said that these expats could infuse up to THB1.2 trillion to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product each year.
Foreign investment in Thailand experienced a reduction of more than 50%, due to factors like political uncertainties, and labor shortages for the past five years. The Kingdom only saw THB361 billion in foreign investment in 2020.