The Thai Immigration Bureau has approved the plan to temporarily waive visa-on-arrival fees for 21 countries, China and India among them, in hopes of promoting tourism over the New Year holiday.
Government spokesman Buddhipongse Punnakanta said yesterday that the cabinet gave the green light, via a ministerial regulation, to waive the THB2,000 (about US$61) fee from the beginning of next month through the end of January for visitors staying in Thailand for 15 days or less, reported Workpoint.
The countries included are: Andorra, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
Visitors from those countries have, reportedly, greatly decreased in the past three to four months, said Buddhipongse.
The government expects the fee-exemption to stimulate a 30 percent increase in tourists during the holiday season, according to The Standard.
One of the major reasons Thailand’s tourist sector is suffering, of course, is the massive decline in tourists from China, which accounted for 28 percent of the 35 million visitor arrivals last year.
Rattled by a series of incidents that have led to bad press — as well as the trade war with America — he Bank of Thailand (BOT) in September said there had been an 11.8 percent decline in the number of Chinese tourists coming to the country from August.
A number of hotels and travel agencies in Thailand contacted by Coconuts Bangkok last month all said the same thing: The Chinese are not coming.