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15-DAY VISA EXEMPTION PROPOSED FOR CHINESE AND INDIAN TOURISTS

Soon visitors from China and India may no longer need to queue up for a visa on arrival at airports, as cabinet is set to approve a visa exemption scheme this August.

The proposed scheme would allow tourists from both countries to stay in Thailand for up to 15 days without a visa. Tourism minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said on Wednesday that he will present the visa exemption plan to cabinet this month.

Phiphat hopes that the new scheme will reverse declining tourist numbers from both countries under the appreciating baht.

“I believe [the scheme] can push Chinese tourist numbers to the target growth rate of 7-8 percent, or around 11.2 million visitors, by the end of next year,” Phiphat said.

The minister said that both the Prime Minister and deputy prime minister Somkid Jatusripitak have given an initial approval to the scheme. The scheme is expected to be effective for a period of one year starting Nov. 1 until Oct. 31, 2020.

Currently, tourists from China and India, as well as 17 other countries, are required to apply for a visa upon arriving at immigration checkpoints. A 2,000 baht visa fee that was previously levied is currently suspended until Oct. 31. Phiphat has said he will also propose to extend the fee exemption for one more year.

In 2018, more than 38 million tourists visited Thailand. Chinese tourists ranked first at 10.5 million, while Indian tourists came fourth at 1.5 million.

Visitors from 56 countries are already entitled to a 30-day visa exemption. The full list of eligible countries can be found on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website.