Thailand looking to boost tourism with Muay Thai visa

Featured Image: Photo by Jonathan Tomas on Unsplash

Thailand’s Government is set to launch a 90-day visa for foreign tourists who want to learn the martial art Muay Thai in the country in a bid to promote its “soft power”.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said the visa is ready to be issued for the three-month period instead of the standard 60 days.

He said that a similar visa will also be offered to people who want to learn Thai classical dance, music, or cooking.

“I and the Thai government are ready to support Thailand's soft power,” Thavisin wrote on social media.

“Providing a special 90-day visa (instead of the normal 60-day visa) to those interested in learning Muay Thai is just a small starting point in implementing the desired government policy.

“Stimulate the Thai economy by using Thainess and exporting it far all over the world.

“We are not thinking of granting a special visa for just Muay Thai, but other soft power such as Thai dancing, Thai music, learning to cook Thai food, etc., we are ready to support. And we are preparing to consider granting a special visa next.”

Many have commended the initiative, saying that it will help to boost tourism, but some are still calling for the visa to be extended to six months or a year.

Worries that the visa might be abused by visitors have been allayed by the government which has stated that those who apply for the scheme must demonstrate that they have already begun Muay Thai training.

They must also live and stay at gymnasiums and training camps certified by the Sports Authority of Thailand for the full duration of the stay.

A new website, Now Muay Thai, has already gone live providing information on places to train in Thailand to support the campaign.

The sport is popular worldwide, and especially in Japan, South Korea, and the United States.

According to Thailand’s Government, the market value of sports tourism is estimated to be at around THB 120bn (£2.6bn/$3.3bn/€3bn).