Govt endeavours to clear up visa entry confusion
The Foreign Ministry on Saturday reiterated that the cancellation of visa on arrival (VOA) for 18 countries and visa exemption for three highly-infected countries came into effect on Friday.
The cancellations are in place temporarily until Sept 30, said Cherdkiat Atthakor, director-general and spokesman of the Foreign Ministry's Information Department.
However, citizens of Russia, South Korea, Hong Kong and Macau that have signed bilateral agreements on free visas with Thailand are exempted from these two new visa policies, which means they can enter Thailand without having to apply for a visa.
The Foreign Ministry yesterday held a press briefing to clear the air after the government and state agencies provided confusing and contradictory messages.
Earlier, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha announced the cancellation had been enforced.
Yet, shortly after, government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat told media outlets the cancellations were impractical because existing bilateral agreements had not expired.
Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda and Gen Prayut insisted the visa changes had gone into effect since last Thursday and would last to the end of September. Nevertheless, the director-general of the Department of Consular Affairs, Chatri Archjananun, said the existing agreements over the exemption needed to be studied before any changes were enforced.
The countries with cancelled VOA are Bulgaria, Bhutan, China (including Taiwan), Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan and Vanuatu. Russia, however, is exempted, thanks to a bilateral agreement.
Hong Kong, Italy and South Korea will have the visa exemption policy cancelled. In practice, only Italians need to apply for a visa to enter Thailand. Citizens of South Korea and Hong Kong can still enter Thailand without visas because of a bilateral agreement.