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Bangkok Post - Eye on security as visa waiver looms
Eye on security as visa waiver looms
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Eye on security as visa waiver looms

Temporary plan to lure Chinese visitors

Tourists arrive in groups at Suvarnabhumi airport in Samut Prakan province in February. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)
Tourists arrive in groups at Suvarnabhumi airport in Samut Prakan province in February. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

The government is looking at ways to ensure tourists' security as it gears up to introduce a visa-free policy for Chinese visitors, a move which it claims to be a potent short-term economic stimulus.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on Sunday met officials from various agencies at the prime minister's official residence near the Government House complex to discuss preparations for the roll-out of the visa-free policy.

Also present at the meeting were Wichai Chaimongkhon, secretary-general of the Narcotics Control Board Office, deputy national police chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn, and PM's secretary-general Prommin Lersuridej.

After the meeting, Pol Gen Surachate, who once served as the deputy chief of the Tourist Police Bureau, said the visa-free policy will help revitalise the tourism industry, which was hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The policy will attract more Chinese tourists to visit Thailand, which in turn will help boost economic growth, as Chinese tourists were among the nation's top visitors prior to pandemic, he added.

To ensure the plan goes without a hitch, the Royal Thai Police has been instructed by the prime minister to look at ways to boost the security of all tourists during their stay in the country, he said.

The proposed visa-free policy for Chinese visitors will be brought up at the first cabinet meeting this week, and the workload of officers in charge of implementing the measure is set to mount.

Mr Srettha had previously said the policy testifies to the government's commitment to boosting tourism, one of the country's prime foreign exchange earners.

More details will be fleshed out in cabinet meetings ahead of the policy's launch on Oct 1, he said.

The tourism sector has reacted positively to the proposed policy.

The stimulus is being trumpeted by Mr Srettha, who is prioritising tourism as the main driver of the nation's economic growth. One of his first trips as premier was to Phuket, where he gained first-hand insights into the situation.

He outlined the visa-free policy for Chinese visitors as a temporary measure to stimulate the tourism sector and bring in more revenue to the state.

It is expected to be in effect until the end of next year's high tourism season.

The sector needs a shot in the arm after it was brought to its knees by more than three years of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The policy is viewed as the biggest tourism revitalisation measure to date. Thailand has waived visa fees for Chinese tourists in the past.

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