Additional measures to boost Thai-Malaysian border trade and tourism are expected to be discussed during a meeting between Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and his Malaysian counterpart Anwar Ibrahim in Songkhla province on Monday.
Among items to be discussed include a proposal by Thai tourism businesses to allow five other immigration checkpoints in the deep south to exempt Malaysian visitors from filling in the Tor Mor 6 immigration clearance form, said a source.
Currently, only the Sadao checkpoint in Songkhla province allows the exemption.
Another proposal calls for night entertainment venues in the Thai-Malaysian border areas in Songkhla to extend opening hours to 4am, a move believed will help spur the southern border economy and which would be in line with opening hour changes backed for tourist spots elsewhere.
Mr Srettha will meet Mr Anwar at a new immigration checkpoint in Sadao district of Songkhla from 11am. The checkpoint is connected with a road leading to Malaysia's Bukit Kayu Hitam immigration checkpoint, about 4 kilometres from the Thai-Malaysian border.
The other five border checkpoints in the far south are Padang Besar in Sadao and Prakop in Na Thawi districts (both in Songkhla), Satun in Satun province, Yala in Yala province and Narathiwat in Narathiwat province, said Charun Kaeo-wachisap, president of Phatthalung's tourism business association.
Shelving the need to fill out the Tor Mor 6 form, which started recently and will run for six months, has led to a doubling in the number of visitors entering Thailand through the Sadao checkpoint.
It is now causing traffic congestion in the area, a problem that could be solved if the same rule was applied at other checkpoints, he said.
He also called on Mr Srettha to consider allowing coaches taking tourists from Malaysia to enter and remain in Songkhla for the convenience of tourists and tour operators.
In addition, Atthaphon Phrommun, mayor of the Padang Besar municipality in Sadao district, said he would propose a meeting with both leaders to consider allowing an area, about 3–5km from the border, to be designated as a special economic zone for border trade.
Both premiers are also expected to discuss the possibility of resuming a shelved project to build a new Thai-Malaysian friendship bridge in Narathiwat's Sungai Kolok district.
The southern unrest will also be on the agenda for talks, in which both sides keen to find measures to stop insurgents from moving back and forth between southern Thailand and northern Malaysia so they can stop using both countries as their criminal base, the source said.