Minister opposes Chinese visa plan

Tourism and Sports Minister Somsak Phurisisak on Monday opposed the Foreign Affairs Ministry plan to grant Chinese tourists visa-free entry into the kingdom, citing overcrowding and inadequacy of tourist facilities as reasons not to go ahead with the scheme.

Mr Somsak said he disagreed with the ministry’s proposals on the issue, saying Thailand could handle only 30 million international tourists each year at most. Allowing the number of foreign visitors to exceed that limit would result in overcrowding at tourist venues, in accommodation and on transport, he said. 

He also questioned the ability of relevant state agencies, such as immigration, to provide good quality services in the case of an influx of tourists. 

He said the Tourism Ministry believes that creating a high-quality travel and tourism market is of the utmost importance.

Mr Somsak’s comments follow a meeting between Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at the 10th ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership held in Bangkok earlier this month. 

After the meeting, Mr Surapong told reporters he and Mr Wang discussed a plan to allow Chinese people to enter Thailand without a visa, while Thai people would also be able to go to China on the same condition. However, the plan was only in the early stage of talks, he said.

Related search: Tourism and Sports Minister Somsak Phurisisak, Foreign Affairs Ministry, Chinese tourists, visa-free entry, overcrowding, tourist facilities

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