ATTA says visa fee waiver is a timely measure

The Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) is hopeful that the temporary waiver of visa fees for tourists from 19 countries as of December 1 until February 28 will attract more tourists into the country, particularly from China and India.

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ATTA president Mr Charoen Wangananont

ATTA president Mr Charoen Wangananont said the measure endorsed by the cabinet will benefit tourists, particularly Chinese and Indians who are considered the significant groups.

The measure is efficient and came at the appropriate time as the country is now approaching the high season for tourism, he said.

December will be the country's peak season for tourists, the visa waiver for tourists from 19 countries will surely attract more to come.

He said Thailand's neighbouring countries have all waived fees for visa services.

The visa waiver announced by the government is timely and will boost more tourists under the current competition from its neighbours, he said.

He also said the visa waiver would get good respond from tourists from Europe and Russia.

For Russia, he said more Russian tourists are returning to Thailand as its economy is improving after declining for a certain period.

Commenting on the clampdown of zero tour business by the government and an estimated 30% drop in Chinese tourist arrivals recently, the ATTA president said now they are returning in higher number respectively.

Under the interim 3-month waiving period, tourists from 19 countries which include Andora, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Romania, San Mario, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan need not have to pay the 1,000 baht visa fee when they apply for a visa at Thai embassies or consular offices.

In the meantime, the cabinet agreed to reduce fee for visa on arrival from 2,000 baht to 1,000 baht at immigration checkpoints for tourists from the 19 countries above mentioned

The two measures are expected to increase tourist arrivals by over 357,000 during the three-month festive season, generating revenue amounting to 28,703 million baht. They will help create over 62,000 temporary jobs and increase the government's tax revenue by about 1,200 million baht.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)