Cabinet slashes visas on arrival

BANGKOK (AFP, Gazette): The cabinet decided at a meeting yesterday to axe 81 nations from a list of 97 whose citizens may obtain a 15-day tourist visa on arrival. The new list of 16 is expected to be brought into force about a month from now. Citizens from the countries chopped off the list will then have to obtain a visa from a Thai embassy before coming to Thailand. The inevitable question – which countries? – cannot at present be answered. When the Gazette called the Secretariat of the Cabinet in Bangkok to get a complete list, it was told that the necessary paperwork arising from the cabinet meeting is not yet complete and that, until it is, the details cannot be revealed. Announcing the cabinet decision, government spokesman Kuthep Saikrajang said that the cuts were made in order to increase security and to stop undesirable people from entering the Kingdom. “Tourists from those countries [removed from the list] don’t provide much revenue for Thailand, and some commit crimes and cause problems here like overstaying and working illegally, which harms the country’s economic and social situations,” he said. A spokesperson from the Immigration Office at Bangkok International Airport told the Gazette, “So far, we have received no new orders, though we have heard that citizens of only 16 nations will be able to obtain visas on arrival. “We know that the countries taken off the list include Russia and Uzbekistan, because they are not big spenders and very few come to Thailand,” she added. Other countries known to have been stripped of visa-on-arrival status include Albania, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Paraguay and the Solomon Islands. Three places that were kept on the list are Taiwan, India and China, which the cabinet agreed to spare because they are increasingly strong sources of tourists. Hong Kong, too, keeps its place. Citizens from most of the countries that provide large numbers of tourists require no visas at all to visit Thailand.

Phuket News
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