Cabinet OKs extending visa fee waiver
The cabinet on Wednesday gave the nod to extending the waiver of visa-on-arrival fees for visitors from 21 nations for another six months to ward off an economic slump during the transition to a new government.
Nathporn Chatusripitak, a spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, said that upon cabinet approval the exemption from the 2,000-baht fee will be extended until Oct 31.
The fee waiver, designed to give a much-needed boost to the tourism industry, is scheduled to expire on April 30.
Although the exemption is estimated to cost 2.95 billion baht in lost revenue to the government, it is expected to draw more foreign visitors and generate 104.61 billion baht in tourism income during the 184 days of the waiver.
The Immigration Bureau reported that the visa fee exemption helped lure visitors in the past three months.
The government waived visa-on-arrival fee for visitors from 21 countries to help the tourism industry from Nov 15, 2018 to Jan 14, 2019. The measure was then extended to April 30.
According to Immigration Bureau statistics, the number of foreign visitors was 3.58 million from Nov 15 to March 31, up 83% from 1.67 million in the year-earlier period.
"Normally the period between May and October is a low season for tourism," Mr Nathporn said. "The measure is thus considered successful, as it could attract more foreign visitors and generate more income."
In a related development, depart- ments under the Commerce Ministry on Wednesdaysigned a memorandum of understanding on a trade and tourism alliance with the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
The objective is to develop target goods, including organic and innovative agricultural products, to link with tourism destinations to stimulate local economies and foreign tourist spending.
The coordination will include marketing promotion, public relations, data integration and providing knowledge to local entrepreneurs to develop products in line with their own communities and tourism destinations.
The partnership is one of the government's ongoing efforts to stimulate domestic consumption and draw more foreign tourists to offset lower export prospects.