Special lanes open for Chinese tourists at 5 airports

Special lanes open for Chinese tourists at 5 airports

A traveller waits for his documents to be checked in the special lane for holders of Chinese passports at Suvarnabhumi airport on Friday. (Photo taken from @1155TPB Facebook page)
A traveller waits for his documents to be checked in the special lane for holders of Chinese passports at Suvarnabhumi airport on Friday. (Photo taken from @1155TPB Facebook page)

Special immigration lanes have opened at five major airports for Chinese tourists as part of an effort to woo back visitors following last month’s Phuket boat tragedy.

Senior officers from the Immigration Bureau and the Tourist Police Bureau (TPB) led a media crew from China to inspect the special lanes at Suvarnabhumi airport on Friday night.

Pol Maj Gen Surachate Hakparn, deputy chief of the TPB, stressed the importance of China as the top-ranked source of visitors to Thailand. More than 10 million Chinese visitors entered Thailand last year.

In addition to special immigration lanes for holders of Chinese passports, authorities are also considering providing multiple-entry visas. This would be more convenient for frequent travellers than the current system requiring a new visa on every trip for a stay of up to 60 days.

Pol Maj Gen Pruettipong Prayoonsiri, commander of the Immigration Police Division 2, said Suvarnahumi airport would have 18 special lanes for Chinese visitors and Don Mueang airport 21 lanes. There will be eight lanes at Chiang Mai airport, 18 at Phuket and 10 at Hat Yai.

Officials with Chinese language proficiency will staff the lanes to serve Chinese visitors, he said.

Pol Maj Gen Surachate also took Chinese reporters and Chinese marine experts to inspect eight dockyards and piers in Phuket, seeking to restore confidence among Chinese tourists following the Phuket boat tragedy.

The tour boat Phoenix capsized in a storm off the resort island on July 5, claiming the lives of 47 Chinese nationals. The craft’s skipper had ignored severe-weather advisories, authorities say.

The tragedy has led many Chinese travellers to think twice about coming to Thailand, putting a dent in the tourism market. The number of Chinese arrivals in July was up just 0.04% year-on-year after a 20% rise in June.

The Tourism and Sports Ministry has revised down its forecast for Chinese arrivals in the last six months of the year by 670,000, to a total of 5.1 million.

Pol Maj Gen Surachate Hakparn, deputy chief of the Tourist Police Bureau, talks to a Chinese tourist at Suvarnabhumi airport on Friday. (Photo from @1155TPB Facebook page)


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