Govt waives visa fees, not visas, for Chinese, Indian visitors

Govt waives visa fees, not visas, for Chinese, Indian visitors

A Chinese tourist uses an e-immigration terminal at Suvarnabhumi airport. Cabinet has extended the visa-fee waiver for citizens of 18 countries until April, as part of an economic stimulus package. (File photo)
A Chinese tourist uses an e-immigration terminal at Suvarnabhumi airport. Cabinet has extended the visa-fee waiver for citizens of 18 countries until April, as part of an economic stimulus package. (File photo)

The cabinet on Tuesday resolved to extend the period for free visas on arrival for visitors from China, India and other countries, but rejected a proposal to waive visas for Chinese and Indian visitors, to boost the economy.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said the cabinet meeting rejected the visa waiver proposal from the Tourism and Sports Ministry for security reasons, and instead extended free visas on arrival for visitors beyond the current October until April 30 next year.

"Cabinet ministers disagree with a visa waiver but resolve that fees for visas on arrival be exempted at immigration checkpoints. The decision was based on security concerns," Gen Prawit said.

On Monday the deputy prime minister said he disagreed with the Tourism and Sports Ministry's proposal to waive visas for short-term Chinese and Indian visitors for one year to help stimulate the economy. He said that would make access too easy. China and India each had a population of about 1.2 billion people. He shared the concern of the Foreign Ministry that people from these countries would be inspired to abuse the visa waiver, flee hardships and settle illegally in Thailand.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said on Tuesday that the 2,000-baht visa fee exemption was for visitors from 18 countries, including China and India.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Tuesday that the fee exemption was extended until the end of  April so it would include the Songkran festival next year.

The waived visa fee is part of the stimulus that economic ministers planned last week. Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana said the cabinet on Tuesday approved a 316-billion-baht economic stimulus package covering subsidies for the poor, domestic tour incentives and soft loans for farmers.


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