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Numbers for Phuket’s popular visa run to Ranong nose dive

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Bookings for Phuket’s renowned “Ranong visa run” have plunged by as much as half, a fall that is threatening the once-daily service that has become a hallmark experience for many expats on the island.

The number of people attempting to re-enter Thailand at Ranong has dropped by about 50 per cent, popular Phuket visa run companies and Ranong immigration officers confirmed to the Phuket Gazette today.

“We cut the Ranong run because we don’t want to deal with the strict enforcement,” said a representative at one Phuket visa run company that declined to be named.

“We can take only people holding non-immigrant B [business] visas there, which means about five people instead of 10 – it’s financially not worth it.”

However, another well-known visa run company, KBV, explained that they were continuing the run, but now only irregularly.

“We still go, but only if we have 10 customers for the van. We now offer visa runs to other places, such as Satun [on the Malaysian border], so we advise our customers to go there if needed,” said Preeyapan Adithepwarangkul, the owner of KBV Visa Run.

“Immigration officers are strict on visa-exemption stamps. So we always suggest that our customers call us ahead of time for the most up-to-date information about what is happening.”

Since the order to tighten up on visa-extension stamps came into effect last Wednesday, the number of visa runners at the Ranong border has halved, confirmed Ranong Immigration Superintendent Aekkorn Butsababodin (story here).

“Since then, our officers have refused to allow foreigners to re-enter Thailand if they had just completed a visa-exemption stay,” Col Aekkorn told the Gazette this morning.

“The drop in numbers has been so significant that I have even been contacted by officials in Myanmar asking what has happened to the tourists in Thailand.”

The strict enforcement comes as Thailand attempts to crack down on foreigners abusing the system and working illegally in the Kingdom.

“It is not only Ranong. The rule applies to every border checkpoint throughout the country,” Col Aekkorn said. “Even tourists entering on their first visa-exemption stay may be refused at the border if we suspect that they will be working illegally in Thailand.”

However, Sadao Immigration Deputy Superintendent Banphot Kittivira pointed out this morning that genuine tourists had nothing to worry about.

“Genuine tourists will be fine. All you have to do is prove to the officers at the border that you are a legitimate tourist, so either have the right visa or the necessary documents to prove your legitimacy,” Col Banphot said (story here).

“A travel itinerary, hotel bookings, tour bookings or any other similar travel documents will be helpful proof.”

— Chutharat Plerin

 

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