Airport immigration procedures surge
Traveller numbers rise by more than 30%
The Immigration Bureau (IB) saw the number of immigration clearance service procedures rise to 41.9 million or a 31.33% increase in the first half of this year.
It expects to see a further rise of between 5% and 10% in the other half of the year, IB deputy spokesman Cheongron Rimphadi said Sunday.
The number represents both Thai and foreign travellers at five international airports -- Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Hat Yai. Nearly 15 million of the procedures involved foreign travellers, Pol Col Cheongron said.
"The IB was therefore accelerating its measures being maintained to keep up with the rise in the number of travellers entering and leaving the country," Pol Col Rimphadi said Sunday.
The IB is now required to better serve also the country's tourism industry, trade and investment sector, the other policies of the government and the Royal Thai Police.
In terms of criminal suppression, the IB in the first half of the year detained a total of 156 suspects including 12 foreigners, he said.
Among these foreign criminal suspects were Oh Janghyn, a Korean human-trafficking suspect arrested on Jan 4, and Dolen Zuarez, an Israeli murder suspect detained on Jan 22, he said.
A total of 3,461 foreigners suspected to pose a threat to Thailand's national security, including 30 sex offenders, have been denied entry to Thailand over the past six months, he said.
To keep pace with the extra workload, IB has accelerated training aimed at improving skills of immigration officers and preparing them to cope with the expected rise in the other half of the year, Pol Col Cheongron said.
Aside from preparing to cope with the increase in numbers of travellers, the IB is also being ordered to step up measures to deal with criminal suspects and fugitives who are categorised as "unwanted persons", he said.
The bureau is now working closely together with the airports locally and internationally in evaluating the travel situation in advance to prepare to handle unexpected events.
In terms of growth, Suvarnabhumi recorded a 6.89% growth in number of travellers when compared with last year's same period.
Don Mueang saw an 18.67% surge in number of travellers, due to increased flights, especially low-cost services, from China, Korea and Japan.
Following an outcry over long queues at the immigration counters at the airport, the IB late last year began identifying and analysing the problem before overhauling its personal identification and blacklist immigration control system including the addition of automatic passport check channels, he said.
The efforts began to pay off given a significant improvement in the speed of immigration clearance service at Don Mueang during the New Year festival, he said.
The IB has also recruited a total of 254 new officers to add to its current workforce at the airport immigration checkpoints, he said, adding that these new officers have only recently completed their training on policing skills and deployed to work at the airports.