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Visa-fee waiver for 21 countries as tourism slump sparks panic

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Visa-fee waiver for 21 countries as tourism slump sparks panic | The Thaiger

by Kat Chanwanpen

Visitors from 21 countries are getting their visa-on-arrival fee waived for 60 days, starting December 1.

Amid declining numbers of visitors, notably from China, a desperate Cabinet yesterday agreed to waive the 2,000 baht visa-on-arrival fee for tourists from 21 countries for 60 days to try and revive one of the main engines of economic growth.

Meanwhile, the government’s economic minister, Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak, yesterday made a deal in Shanghai with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to help promote Thailand as a tourist destination to Chinese people.

Tourists from 20 countries plus Taiwan, whose nationals are already entitled to a visa on arrival, will be able to enjoy the fee waiver. The duration of stay, however, will remain unchanged at 15 days.

Here’s the list of nationalities that will be able to take advantage of the visa-fee waiver…

Andorra, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China,  Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Taiwan.

The proposal was made to the Cabinet by the Immigration Bureau to boost falling tourist numbers over the peak New Year holiday season.

Thailand has seen a continuous decrease in the number of tourists, more than 10 per cent over the past three months, said Government spokesman Puttipong Punnakanta.

The number of tourists coming through Suvarnabhumi Airport in 2016 were 2.2 million and in 2017, 3.1 million. But from January to September this year, the number had declined to 1.7 million, an enormous drop in tourist numbers flowing through the country’s largest airport.

It is hoped the visa-fee exemption will attract 30 per cent more tourists and help generate more income for the tourism industry and the entire economy, he said, while declining to estimate the loss in revenue from the visa-fee waiver.

In the past few years, Thailand has been a popular destination among Chinese tourists but due to the July boat tragedy in Phuket, which killed 47 people, the number of tourists from China has dropped significantly.

Observers in the industry said social media in China had been caning Thailand over the past few months, resulting in a decline in Chinese visitors. Comments on the boat tragedy made by Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan in the days following the tragedy, the crackdown on zero-dollar package tours as well as news of an outbreak of dengue in the Kingdom had made Chinese tourists wary, according to an expert on Chinese affairs.

Visa-fee waiver for 21 countries as tourism slump sparks panic | News by The Thaiger

The number of Chinese visitors dropped dramatically from 939,771 in July, when the boat tragedy took place, to 867, 461 in August, down 11.7 per cent, according to the Tourism and Sports Ministry.

Tour operators, hotels and restaurants in Phuket have confirmed that there were still no signs of Chinese tourists returning to the province. Some resorts are saying drop off of Chinese tourists is at least 50%, some cite declines of a much higher number. The lack of big Chinese tourist buses around the island, usually a noticeable part of the traffic flow around the island’s roads, have been noticably absent in the last two months.

In Pattaya, deputy mayor Poramet Ngampichet called a meeting with concerned agencies and stakeholders in the tourism sector to map out measures to boost visitor numbers following a sharp decline in tourists. Chinese are among the top visitors to Pattaya, totalling 2.5 million last year.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid said yesterday that China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba had agreed to help promote Thai tourism. On November 11, or “11/11” – when Chinese people celebrate “Singles Day” – Alibaba will launch a 20 second video on its website to encourage Chinese tourists to travel to Thailand, he said.

The video is expected to reach as many as 800 million Chinese, Somkid said after his meeting in Shanghai yesterday with Alibaba’s executives, including its founder and president, Jack Ma.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand had already been instructed to create the video, Somkid said, adding he himself might be featured in the presentation to convey the message of convenience and safety in travelling to Thailand.

Visa-fee waiver for 21 countries as tourism slump sparks panic | News by The Thaiger Visa-fee waiver for 21 countries as tourism slump sparks panic | News by The Thaiger

Sort the exchange rate. Why is the baht so ridiculously over valued? For way too long! – JM

Waive visa fee is useless. Improve safety, services, efficiency is the key – AG

Do they seriously think 2000 will make or break someone’s decision to travel to another country 🤣 – MZS

Phuket and all other tourist places are over priced for the service and safety that it offers – LE

People come to experience Thailand from various countries and most have a great experience. Those who have visited it tell their friends at home how it was – AK

Surely it’s a kickback from a tourist industry that has grown extremely quickly and now puts off a lot of people looking for a nice quality location but only sees pile it high cheap as possible run down hotels and beaches full of Chinese and Russians . There are some stunning hotels in Phuket but they are far and few between and as soon as you walk outside these hotels you are confronted with mayhem and dangerous travelling conditions, the last taxi we used from the airport it became obvious the driver was stoned and we got out and walked the last bit but the company did send the boss to our hotel the next day with a refund . Guess that makes it all ok and never mind the next fate he picked up – GB

SOURCES: The Nation, The Thaiger



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Thailand

Woman badly injured in Rayong car accident

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Woman badly injured in Rayong car accident | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: สื่อสาร 01 / Siam Rayong Rescue Foundation

Rescue workers took two hours to free a woman from a car following a road incident in Rayong south east of Bangkok.

The Siam Rayong Rescue Foundation has reported that they were notified of the incident in Rayong city at 7am this morning.

Rescue workers arrived to find a car overturned after colliding at speed with a tree on the side of the road.

Rescue workers used four set of hydraulic cutters to free the injured passengers from the car. One woman suffered two broken legs and was rushed to a nearby hospital.

Looking at the wreckage it is a wonder no one was killed.

Woman badly injured in Rayong car accident | News by The Thaiger Woman badly injured in Rayong car accident | News by The Thaiger Woman badly injured in Rayong car accident | News by The Thaiger Woman badly injured in Rayong car accident | News by The Thaiger Woman badly injured in Rayong car accident | News by The Thaiger Woman badly injured in Rayong car accident | News by The Thaiger Woman badly injured in Rayong car accident | News by The Thaiger

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Thailand

Thai Airways charges British passenger 80,000 baht for extra luggage

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Thai Airways charges British passenger 80,000 baht for extra luggage | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Thai Airways

A British expat has been charged a whopping 79,825.13 baht by Thai Airways for extra luggage on a flight to London from Bangkok.

The report was posted by Thai Visa.

The incident occurred when the man in question (who is not named) was on the Thai Airways website purchasing 20kg extra luggage each way, and was quoted 975.90 Thai baht, a reasonable price. But when the automatic receipt was generated and the man was shocked to find out that the transaction had been processed by Thai Airways in British pounds, not Thai Baht.

The cost of the original ticket was of 544 Pounds ( 22,234.08 baht) and now he had been charged 1,951.80 POUNDS (79,825.13 baht) for the luggage.

The ‘victim’ logged into his Barclays mobile banking App to find that the transaction was there and still pending. The situation was made worse when the man called customer service at Thai Airways, who he says ‘did nothing to help him’.

On the phone with the airline, he says that they were ‘absolutely awful’, rude, dismissive, and even told him ‘you have to pay’. When he asked the airline for a refund they weren’t willing to acknowledge the problem or even investigate. He tried to explain to them that there must be a glitch in their system as the currency has changed without the price being adjusted.

With no help from Thai Airways it was the man’s bank who were more rational and could see that this was a suspicious charge. Barclay’s flagged the transaction as fraudulent, which triggered an instant insurance claim, and had the man refunded the full amount back to this account.

The insurance company will now pursue claims against Thai Airways to recover the amount.

“They’ve made it completely clear that they don’t give a sh*t about their customers. 80,000 baht for one bag is just madness! A grain of common sense was all that was needed to resolve this amicably, but Thai Airways would rather steal from returning customers than help them. I will never use Thai Airways again, and I will warn everyone of their unethical practices and lack of integrity.”

Over to you Thai Airways…

SOURCE: Thai Visa 

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People

So long, farewell – Yingluck says goodbye to Thai politics

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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So long, farewell – Yingluck says goodbye to Thai politics | The Thaiger

Former Thai PM, and fugitive, Yingluck Shinawatra is saying she has “washed her hands of Thai politics” because she has suffered enough from her political role in the past.

In a Twitter post she denied a report in Thai newspapers that she had personally nominated a former minister to become Pheu Thai party’s candidate for PM in the forthcoming election, saying that the nomination process is an internal matter for the party.

Ms Yingluck says that for the time being she has had a lot of work and responsibilities to take care of.

Former PM Yingluck has been living in self-exile with her elder brother, former Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra.  She ‘did a runner’ and secretly escaped Thai borders in the days before the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Offices handed down a five year sentence on her for her failure to stop massive corruption in the controversial rice pledging scheme of her government in September 2017.

International media reported last week stated that Ms Yingluck used a Cambodian passport to register a company in Hong Kong, lending weight to reports she used the neighbouring kingdom to make her dramatic escape from her homeland.

The former PM was also recently named chair of a Chinese port operator in Guangdong province as her family’s political dynasty grow their business presence in southern China.

Yingluck and her billionaire brother Thaksin Shinawatra were both elected prime minister but were toppled in military coups – Thaksin in 2006 and Yingluck in 2014.

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