Thailand’s Foreign Ministry has rejected suggestions that the visa application for Chinese tourists is overly complicated and potentially “off-putting” to travellers. The ministry was responding to complaints from tourism operators, who say complicated rules are deterring Chinese tourists, potentially costing Thailand revenue to the tune of 250 billion baht.
Representatives of the tourism sector have petitioned the Thai Sang Thai Party, a member of the 8-party coalition with election winners, the Move Forward Party. According to a Nation Thailand report, they say that visa rules introduced to deter Chinese criminals are in fact, also deterring Chinese tourists.
However, the ministry has refuted the claims, saying the visa application process is simple. Ministry spokesperson Kanchana Patarachoke says the government needs to strike a balance between tourism and security, adding that Chinese tourists can choose between a 15 day visa-on-arrival or applying in advance for an electronic visa.
This has been the case for Chinese travellers pre-Covid.
Applying for an e-visa is easy, according to Kanchana, with no paperwork involved and all personal data integrated across sectors. Applicants only need to provide their passport data page and a record of their international travel in the preceding 12 months, with applications approved within 15 days.
The e-visa system can process up to 5 million applicants a year, with plans to increase this to 15 million in the future, says Kanchana. She has also insisted there is no cap on the number of tourist visas issued to Chinese visitors.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, China was by far Thailand’s largest overseas tourism market, accounting for 28% of international visitors to the kingdom.
SOURCE: Nation Thailand