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Bangkok Post - Songkhla favours expansion of foreign bus travel beyond province
Songkhla favours expansion of foreign bus travel beyond province

Songkhla favours expansion of foreign bus travel beyond province

Decision to travel beyond provincial limits still needs approval from Land Transport Department

A bus from Malaysia enter Thai soil at the main checkpoint in Sadao district in Songkhla. (Photo: Assawin Pakkawan)
A bus from Malaysia enter Thai soil at the main checkpoint in Sadao district in Songkhla. (Photo: Assawin Pakkawan)

SONGKHLA: Songkhla has proposed the lifting of restrictions on buses bearing foreign license plates to travel only in the provincial boundary in a push by tourism operators to woo more visitors, mainly from Malaysia, to travel other southern provinces, according to a local tourism governing body.

Charoon Kaewwaveesub, president of the Phatthalung Tourism Association, said on Friday that Songkhla and the local land transport office have agreed to end the ban. The decision now awaits final approval from the Land Transport Department in Bangkok, he said.

Foreign buses planning to travel outside the province still need authorisation from Songkhla, if the travel ban is lifted. Foreign buses without passengers are not permitted to enter Thailand.

The Songkhla province and the local office responsible for land transport could not be reached for comment.

The current provincial regulation, dating back to August 15, 2014, restricts foreign-registered buses carrying passengers to travel only within Songkhla's boundaries. The rule was initially implemented to support Thai bus operators in securing Malaysian passengers travelling outside Songkhla. However, tourism operators in Songkhla and other southern provinces argued that it discouraged visits to Thailand's southern region due to inconvenience.

Songchai Mungprasithichai, president of the Songkhla Tourism Promotion Association, claimed that the ban damaged about 1 billion baht in tourism revenue a year.

Tourism businesses in the southern region have campaigned to end the ban as they hope for spending of Malaysians visiting their provinces other than Songkhla to benefit the local economy.

More than 4.6 million Malaysian tourists visited Thailand last year, leading all foreign holidaymakers, according to Tourism and Sports Ministry data. Most visitors from the neighbouring country enter the kingdom on land, either by car or in group by bus, largely through the Sadao checkpoint in Songkhla.

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