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Thailand raises entry visa fees for non-western tourists

  • Author:naky
  • Source:www.diecastingpartsupplier.com
  • Release on:2016-08-30
Deadly bomb blasts in Thai tourist resort areas have failed to deter the country’s military rulers from raising entry fees for holidaymakers from 19 countries and territories, including China.The decision to press ahead with plans to double visa-on-arrival costs to 2,000 baht ($58) has generated mixed reviews, with some commentators arguing it will undermine efforts to shore up confidence in a rare growth industry in the stuttering economy.

The tariff changes widen the disparity between Chinese holidaymakers and western counterparts who can still visit for free, even though the doubling of Thailand’s tourist numbers in six years has been driven by China.

The higher charges appear to reflect official ambivalence in Bangkok towards a sector that has delivered income during political turbulence but is putting increasing strain on infrastructure.Chanapan Klaewklachyawut, secretary-general of the Thai-Chinese Tourism Alliance Association, said: “This extra charge is not much for Chinese tourists. If they can’t even afford this amount, how will they have enough money to spend on travelling in Thailand?”

The Thai government announced last week that the new charges would come into force next month, weeks after bomb attacks across tourist resorts in south Thailand killed four people and wounded dozens more, some of them foreigners.The fees lift Thailand out of the bracket of visas-on-arrival for $40 or less charged by other Southeast Asian holiday-maker destinations, such as Cambodia and Indonesia.

Some Thai commentators have questioned both the decision to raise the prices and the timing of the announcement, which follow approval by the military-dominated cabinet earlier this year.The increases are particularly striking because China has provided almost half the more than 15m extra arrivals that have lifted Thailand’s foreign tourism visitor numbers from 14.15m in 2009 to 29.88m last year. The boom is apparent in the snaking queues at Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport for taxi ranks and at immigration desks that proclaim the official policy of “Good guys in, bad guys out”.

Some observers link the visa price rise to official efforts to attract more high-spending visitors and draw away from the cheaper — and seedier — elements of Thailand’s tourist success story.Photos and videos have surfaced alleging various episodes of spitting and other bad mannered behaviour by Chinese tourists, who have flocked in particular to temples and other sites featured in a hugely popular 2012 road trip movie called Lost in Thailand.

Some tourism sector insiders argue the higher fees could even be a good thing, because they will help ease the congestion that rapid expansion has brought.