The Tourism Association of Phatthalung has filed an open letter asking the government to allow Malaysian buses to enter the southern provinces of Thailand to boost local tourism.
Jarun Kaewjeesub, president of the Tourism Association of Phatthalung, said the association would submit another letter directly to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and Minister of Tourism and Sports Sudawan Wangsupakitkosol during their coming inspection tour of the South.
The open letter says the association would like the prime minister to consider scrapping an order that places restrictions on foreign buses, mainly from Malaysia, from entering the southern province of Songkhla.
Issued by the since-disbanded National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) on July 18, 2014, the order mandates that a foreign bus operator must report their passengers and bus details to the Songkhla Provincial Land Transport Office in advance if they would like to visit areas outside the province.
The order also says foreign buses can only enter Songkhla if they are loaded with tourists. Foreign buses which are empty must not cross the border into Thailand.
The open letter says the order has affected local tourism in the southern region because tourist buses from Malaysia cannot travel freely to provinces adjacent to Songkhla such as Phatthalung, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Satun, Phuket, Krabi, Phangnga and Surat Thani. Since 2014, the number of tourists from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia to the south of Thailand has drastically dropped, causing the region to lose hundreds of millions of baht per year, said Mr Jarun.
He said the tourism association would like the Immigration Bureau to provide more TM 6 immigration forms to tour groups. Usually, officials would grant each tour group 9-10 forms, but often one tour group can consist of over 100 tourists. He said entrepreneurs have talked to various agencies, but little if any progress has been made.