Thailand waives visa-on-arrival fees to enhance tourism

Thailand’s cabinet approved a measure to waive for two months fees paid by visitors for visas on arrival, with an objective to boost tourism, which was hit by a drop in visitors from China, its biggest market.

The fee of 2,000 baht (USD 60) will be waived between December 1 and January 31 for travellers from 21 countries, including China, Taiwan, India and Saudi Arabia, government spokesman Puttiphong Punnakan told the media.

The scheme is expected to increase tourist numbers by at least 30 per cent during the period, he said.

In September, overall tourist arrivals rose just 2.1 per cent from a year earlier. However the arrivals from China fell almost 15 per cent following a boat accident in July, which killed 47 Chinese tourists.

Last year, Chinese visitors made up nearly a third of the record 35.38 million arrivals in Thailand.

Tourism receipts account for about 12 per cent of Southeast Asia’s second largest revenue earner making it one of the most important drivers of its growth.

The tourism ministry has forecast 37.5 million foreign tourists this year, up about 6 per cent.