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Government tries, fails to clarify visa-on-arrival confusion

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GRAPHIC: - Bangkok Post

After days of rumours, assertions and flip-flops, Thailand’s Foreign Ministry in a press briefing yesterday provided some much-needed clarity regarding visa-on-arrival (VOA) status for 18 countries and visa exemption for three countries with high infection rates of the Covid-19 coronavirus: they are cancelled. Cherdkiat Atthakor, director-general and spokesman of the Foreign Ministry’s Information Department says the cancellations are in place temporarily until Sept 30,

Citizens of Russia, South Korea, Hong Kong and Macau (which has been virus-free for weeks), which have signed bilateral agreements, are exempted from the new policies, meaning they can enter Thailand without the need apply for a visa.

On Wednesday, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha announced the cancellation had been enacted. Yet, shortly after, government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat told media the cancellations were “impractical” because existing bilateral agreements had not expired.

Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda and Prayut insisted the visa changes had gone into effect on Thursday and would last to the end of September. Then the director-general of the Department of Consular Affairs said existing agreements over exemptions needed to be studied before any changes could be enforced.

Still, some confusion remains: A report in today’s Bangkok Post plainly states:

“The countries with cancelled VOA are Bulgaria, Bhutan, China (including Taiwan), Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan and Vanuatu. Russia, however, is exempted, thanks to a bilateral agreement.”

The same article goes on to report:

“Hong Kong, Italy and South Korea will have the visa exemption policy cancelled. In practice, only Italians need to apply for a visa to enter Thailand. Citizens of South Korea and Hong Kong can still enter Thailand without visas because of a bilateral agreement.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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