Thailand second for Alipay transactions, health insurance to be required for OA visas
Alipay, the mobile payment platform used widely by mainland Chinese travelers, reported that Thailand came in second in number of Alipay transactions during Golden Week – the week of October 1 -7. Japan came in first followed by Thailand. Total transaction volume rose 1.2 times from the previous year while average spending per person rose 1.22 times compared to the previous year. Top locations for use of the payment system were shopping malls, duty free shops and convenience stores. Spending patterns showed that Chinese tourists were showing a growing interest in experiences with sales of durian experience packages up 60 percent from the previous year.
Retirees obtaining the non-Immigrant O-A visa overseas will now be required to obtain health insurance valid for the period of their stay in the country. The new policy, which is reported to take effect on October 31 according to the Deputy Health Minister, will only affect those foreigners applying for the “long-stay” O-A visa overseas. New applicants and those re-applying for new ones overseas will be required to health insurance that covers not less than 40,000 baht for outpatient and 400,000 baht for inpatient medical fees.
The economic Cabinet approved a new round of measures to attract tourists to the country including free re-entry visas for foreign tourists who visit neighboring countries by land, increased value-added tax (VAT) refund agents, more downtown VAT refund venues and VAT refunds in cash on the spot. Additionally, companies who organize seminars in the country will be allowed claim up to deductions of up to two times expenses. The government also plans to introduce a new measure to make it easier for the 150,000 expatriates in the country to travel nationwide without reporting the TM30. The government has already announced plans to scrap the TM6 arrival/departure card and introduce a new mobile app for TM30 reporting.