A critical bottleneck that delays flights, long waits at immigration leave lasting bad impressions among tourists.
Photo above shows crowds of passengers waiting in line at Suvarnabhumi airport.
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TRAVEL TITBITS: First impressions suffer as airport immigration queues grow longer by Karnjana Karnjanatawe
The tourism industry is facing a headache during this high season, with travellers having to queue up for extended periods at Suvarnabhumi Airport's immigration section.
"I had to wait at the airport immigration counter for 70 minutes," Joseph Greiner wrote to my mail box on January 24. He continued that most flights were delayed because of the "professionals" in charge of immigration. Only half of the counters were manned.
Mr Greiner is not alone. Many complaints have been filed to travel associations via travel agents and also heard by the Immigration Bureau Commissioner, Pol Lt Gen Chatchawal Suksomjitwhich, who promised an improvement of the service.
"But nothing has changed since," said Tourism and Sports Minister, Chumpol Silpa-archa, who confirmed that the issue was also discussed at a recent cabinet meeting.
The Immigration Bureau explained that they did not have enough staff and have a problem with equipment as their computers are old, slow at processing and sometimes malfunction.
At Suvarnabhumi Airport, there are 70 immigration counters, but only 40 are open during office working hours. At night, the numbers are dramatically reduced.
"I left for China on February 4 at 3am. There were only two immigration counters available so the queue was long," said Anake Srishevachart, president of the Thai-Japan Tourist Association. His solution was to be at the airport at least three hours before his chartered flight was due to take off.
The long queueing period at the immigration section not only affects departure passengers, but also arrivals.
The inbound and outbound traffic at Suvarnabhumi has doubled from an average 50,000 travellers a day to some 100,000 during the high season, said Piyaman Tejapaibul, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand.
"The problem that can be fixed right away is to allocate enough officers to match the numbers of tourists," she said. "This is a question of good management. We want the Immigration Bureau to emphasise service."
To make their complaints formal, the association will submit their letter today to the Joint Public and Private Sector Consultative Committee, which is presided over by the Prime Minister.
As first impressions have a lasting impact, Thailand cannot afford to leave unpleasant feelings in the minds of tourists.
"This is an urgent issue that needs to be addressed," said the Tourism and Sports Minister.
(Source: Bangkok Post, TRAVEL TITBITS, First impressions suffer as airport immigration queues grow longer, 14/02/2011, Karnjana Karnjanatawe, link)
impression - a feeling or opinion about something you do not know much about (based on looking at something or watching behaviour) ความประทับใจ, ความตรึงใจ, ความติดอกติดใจหรือฝังอยู่ในใจ
first impressions - the feeling you get about something the first time you meet (based on incomplete information)
suffer - to experience physical or mental pain
immigration - the process in which people enter a country in order to live there permanently การย้ายถิ่นฐาน (1. people coming into a country to travel, live, and work there, 2. the controls that governments place on flows of people into the country)
queue - a line of people waiting for something คิว
immigration counter - the long flat surface where customers are served (at a bank, restaurant, etc)
professional - a person whose job requires special training and work that follows a set of high standards ผู้เชี่ยวชาญในวิชาชีพ, มืออาชีพ
"professionals" - meaning here: they are called professionals, but they may not actually be professionals
in charge of - managing, controlling, making sure things get done and targeted goals achieved
manned - have a worker at a certain place (desk, counter, etc) working, performing tasks
complaints - when people say there is something wrong and they want it changed
filed - to take official action, e.g., to make a formal complaint ยื่นฟ้องร้อง
improvement - when something gets better or when you make it better การปรับปรุง, การทำให้ดีขึ้น
confirmed - said that what someone said (a claim) is true, verified to be true
issue - a problem that needs to be considered ประเด็น
meeting - when a group of people come together to discuss issues and make decisions การประชุม
staff - workers, employees พนักงาน
malfunction - a failure to work or operate correctly ทำงานผิดปกติ
dramatically - in a big way อย่างใหญ่หลวง
queueing period - the time you have to wait in line before someone helps you (provides service)
chartered - hired especially for the use of a particular group เช่าเหมาลำ
flight - flying from one place to another place by airplane การบิน
chartered flight - a flight
due to - expected to happen or should happen มีกำหนด
take off - when an airplan leaves the ground
landing - when an airplane touches the ground again after a flight
departure - leaving ออกจาก
inbound - travelling towards a particular point, particular into a city ขาเข้า (opposite of outbound ขาออก)
traffic - the number traveling to a place during a period of time (people, aircraft, ships, trains, cars, trucks, etc.) ความหนาแน่นของจำนวนคน หรือยานพาหนะในช่วงเวลาใดช่วงเวลาหนึ่ง
inbound traffic - the number of flights arriving at the airport during a period of time
outbound traffic - the number of flights leaving the airport during a period of time
allocate - to officially give out an amount of or share of something แบ่งส่วน, จัดสรร, จัดแบ่ง
officer - someone with a position of power and authority in the police, military or other government agency เจ้าหน้าที่
emphasise - to stress something such as an idea, fact or detail; to explain why something is important เน้น
submit - to formally give something to someone so that can make a decision about it ยื่น (เอกสาร) เพื่อการพิจารณา
presided - to be in charge of a formal meeting or ceremony เป็นประธาน
lasting - continuing to exist or have an effect for a long time ที่กินเวลานาน
impact - an effect or influence ผลกระทบ
lasting impact - an effect that will exist for a long time (will not disappear quickly)
X cannot afford to Y - X cannot do Y (or allow Y to happen) because the cost would be too high
urgent - problem that needs to be dealt with immediately ที่เร่งด่วน
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