Free visa for Chinese tourists raises crime concerns

A plan for free visas for Chinese visitors proposed by new Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin could lead to more crime, says the Immigration Bureau (IB).

The policy starting Oct 1 aims to attract more Chinese visitors, who previously made up most tourist arrivals. Despite the easing of Covid-19, the number of Chinese visitors has not made a strong recovery.

The Association of Thai Travel Agents (Atta) said earlier that many Chinese are not keen on travelling overseas due to economic pressure and the weak yuan.

Negative images of Thailand are circulating on Chinese social media, particularly regarding safety, which makes them reluctant to travel, Atta said.

The plan to offer the free visas has divided opinions. Some tourism-related businesses are concerned that greater ease of entry would lead to an influx of Chinese criminals.

IB's chief on Monday said that an offer of a free visa could create a loophole through which operators of call centre gangs, illegal businesses and other transnational crimes could slip into the country.

The planned policy, it is feared, would also worsen congestion at immigration counters.

The IB would need to alleviate airport crowding due to the expected spike in Chinese visitors. For instance, all immigration check-in counters must be fully opened during peak arrival hours.

The IB was looking to have dedicated immigration lanes for Chinese passport holders. The IB unsuccessfully asked the Airports of Thailand to make more space for immigration checkpoints at international airports.

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  • alleviate: to make something less painful, severe, or serious - ทำให้บรรเทา ทำให้น้อยลง
  • attract: to cause someone to be interested in something - ดึงดูดความสนใจ
  • congestion: a situation in which a place is crowded with people or vehicles - แน่นขนัดไปด้วยรถหรือคน
  • dedicated: used only for one specific thing - ที่กำหนดใช้ในทางใดทางหนึ่งโดยเฉพาะ
  • influx: a large number of people or things coming in to a place - การหลั่งไหล การไหลบ่า  (เข้าไปยังที่ใดที่หนึ่ง)
  • keen: very interested in an activity - สนใจอย่างยิ่ง
  • loophole: a small mistake in an agreement or law which gives someone the chance to avoid having to do something - ช่องโหว่ในกฎหมาย, จุดอ่อน, ข้อบกพร่อง
  • policy (noun): a set of plans or action agreed on by a government, political party, business, or other group - นโยบาย
  • pressure: a worried feeling that you get when you have to deal with a difficult or complicated situation - ความกดดัน
  • recovery (noun): the process of becoming normal and healthy again - การฟื้นตัว, การฟื้นฟู
  • reluctant: not willing to do something - อย่างไม่เต็มใจ อย่างลังเลใจ
  • spike: a sudden increase - การพุ่งพรวดขึ้น
  • transnational: involving more than one country; present in more than one country - ข้ามชาติ
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