Proposal to offer 15 day visa-free travel to Chinese and Indian visitors steam-rolled

The new Thai Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn’s proposal to provide 15 day visa-free travel to Chinese and Indian tourists, was steam-rolled yesterday by Cabinet.

The cabinet resolved instead to extend the fee waiver on visas for visitors from China, India and other countries in the program. The program will now be extended beyond October 31 this year to April 30 next year, which covers the 2019 Songkran festivities.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat had been proposing totally visa-free travel to Chinese and Indian tourists, for up to 15 days, as a means to encourage tourists from the two markets. But opposition from the Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai and deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan made the proposals success highly unlikely.

Prawit Wongsuwon says the cabinet meeting rejected the visa waiver proposal for security reasons, and instead extended free visas for visitors arriving until at least April 30 next year.

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Gen Prawit said he shared the concerns of the Foreign Ministry that people from these two countries would be inspired to abuse the visa waiver to “flee hardships and settle illegally in Thailand”.

The Tourism and Sports Minister says that the 2,000-baht visa fee exemption was for visitors from 18 countries, including China and India.

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