Travel Industry Working To Extend Free Visa-On-Arrival
From the people who run Bangkok Novotel, to the airline operators, travel industry leaders in Thailand are pressing the government to extend the programme that waives the Bt2,000 Visa-On-Arrival fee up until October 2019.
The aforementioned waiver has already received a prior extension, from the end of January, up to the end of April, in order to encourage foreign travellers hailing from across 21 countries. These travellers are eligible for a visa-on-arrival when they go through to any of Thailand’s international border checkpoints, where they would have to pay the fee, usually.
The waiver was primarily aimed at travellers from China and India. Indian arrivals into Thailand went up by around 20% during the waiving period. Meanwhile, Chinese arrivals into the kingdom didn’t increase, the fee waiver did counteract a bit of the decline that arrival numbers have been seeing.
The travel industry, including the people who run, and compete with the Bangkok Novotel, proposed the October end date of the fee waiver, but there have been some pushback against the proposal.
Immigration Chief Lt-Gen. SurachateHakparn instead proposed a July end date. Reports from local news outlets, Surachate was talking with the Deputy Prime Minister, SomkidJatusripitak over the fee waiving, the proposed cut-off date, and what their verdict would be. Additionally, there’s word that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha have taken notice of the extension proposal.
The Tourism Council of Thailand have thrown their support behind the proposed extension, as they say that it works well; October 31 is when low season starts. On top of that, the TCT says that many Asian countries as using similar programmes in order to entice travellers.
That being said, not everyone in travel and tourism had thrown their support behind the fee waiver extension.
One such figure is a big name; Minister of Tourism and Sports, WeerasakKowsurat. Minister Kowsurat was against extending the fee waiving programme past April, saying he’d prefer that foreign travellers pay the Bt2,000 fee. He did, however, present a counterproposal; to end the fee waiving, making the nationals of the 21 countries have to pay the visa-on-arrival fee, with an option of getting a free second visit into Thailand, provided they visit within six months of the first visit.
Currently, the fee waving programme is set to end by the 30th of April, following extension to account for the annul Songkran Festival, which runs from the 13th to the 15th.