Muscat: Citizens who are looking forward to receiving medical treatment in Thailand can now stay in the country for 90 days without a visa, according to Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand to the Sultanate of Oman, Dr. Pornchai Danvivathana.
This "privilege" has been put in place as part of Thailand's campaign to become a regional medical hub. It is estimated that some 60,000 Omanis visited Thailand for medical care in 2012. "Now, with new regulations, we expect this number to grow by another 25 per cent in 2013," the ambassador said, while speaking to Times of Oman on Wednesday.
To encourage medical tourism, some of Thailand's better-known hospitals have established offices in Muscat so they can target Omanis seeking medicare.
Moreover, Oman Air is planning to add two to four flights per week on the Muscat-Bangkok route. Currently, there are 14 direct flights offered each week from Muscat.
The ambassador also said that the Royal Thai government has implemented the visa-free regulations to assist Omani patients, as well as GCC nationals who need to receive longer medical treatment in Thailand. "This is in addition to the 30-day visa exemptions for tourism purposes, which is still applicable to Omani nationals," he said.
The new regulations allow patients to be accompanied by three individuals of GCC nationality, such as parents, children, spouse or maid, to stay in Thailand for 90 days without visas. "Maids or accompanying persons of other nationalities, including those of 48 countries and territories listed on the 30-day visa exemption scheme, are subject to visa requirements (Non-Immigrant type "O" visa)," the ambassador added.
The GCC nationals who would be eligible for the 90-day visa exemption shall have to present some documents to immigration officers upon arrival in Thailand.
"For a patient, they should carry a document which can prove that they have a medical appointment issued by the certified health institutions in Thailand. Secondly, they have to show financial support documents, such as health insurance, issued by authorities in their respective countries," Danvivathana said. For individuals accompanying patients, they have to show documents proving their relationship with the patient and the accompanying individuals, which can include a birth certificate, marriage certificate, house registration, or I.D. card for a family member.
"Secondly, they have to show employment contracts, (in case of employee or maid) and an affidavit of support form (prepared by hospitals in Thailand)," the ambassador added.
Thailand has become a popular medical tourism destination and over the years it has gained recognition and credibility for its medical tourism facilities.
In 2012, the number of tourists coming to Thailand for medical care was as high as 2,530,000, increasing from 2011 by 11.3 per cent (2,240,000), according to officials. Nationals from South Korea, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Peru, now qualify for the 90-day visa exemption in Thailand.