Thailand targets tourism boost with longer stays for visitors, students, 'digital nomads'

Tourists dressed in traditional Thai costumes visit Wat Arun temple in Bangkok

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's government said on Tuesday it had approved longer visa stay periods for tourists, postgraduate students and remote workers, and better visa conditions for retirees, in a move to boost its crucial tourism sector as its economy stutters.

Starting in June, Thailand will allow travelers from 93 countries to stay for periods of 60 days, up from the current 57 nations, while more will also be eligible for visas on arrival, government spokesperson Chai Wacharonke told reporters.

Foreign students will be permitted to stay for an additional year upon graduation, while insurance requirements for foreigners seeking to retire in Thailand will be relaxed, he added.

Tourism is a key driver of Southeast Asia's second-largest economy and a big source of employment.

The new measures come as part of an effort to boost visitors, especially from its main and fastest-growing markets, by extending stay limits to 60 days from 30 days for on-arrival visas.

The validity of so-called "digital nomad" visas for self-employed, remote workers will be extended to five years, from 60 days presently, with each stay limited to 180 days.

Thailand recorded 14.3 million tourists in from January to May 26 this year and is targeting a record 40 million foreign arrivals for the full year, with revenue of 3.5 trillion baht ($95.73 billion).

In pre-pandemic 2019, Thailand welcomed a record 39.9 million arrivals, generating 1.91 trillion baht.

($1 = 36.5600 baht)

(Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanant and Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Martin Petty)