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Minister addresses visa-free entry for Chinese… “don’t generalise”

Flickr/Dawn in Phuket, Thailand

Thailand’s new tourism minister has asked Thais to refrain from making sweeping generalisations about Chinese visitors. Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol was responding to concerns raised about a proposal to temporarily waive visa fees for Chinese tourists. There’s been plenty of complete random commentary about Chinese visitors from others on Thai social media as well.

The policy was originally proposed by PM Srettha Thavisin, in an effort to boost visitor numbers. However, a number of people have voiced concern that it will lead to an influx of Chinese criminals who will go on to run illegal businesses and engage in all sorts of nefarious deeds in the kingdom.

The concerns have arisen following the discovery of a number of Chinese-operated scam centres and other illegal business ventures. Other concerns include the risk of congestion at airport immigration desks and Thai nationals possibly losing their jobs to the Chinese.

Sudawan says the visa fee waiver for Chinese tourists is in recognition of their significant contribution to tourism revenue in the kingdom. Since the beginning of 2023, over 2.23 million Chinese have visited Thailand, generating revenue of around 100 billion baht.

She has called on Thais to refrain from assuming that every Chinese person is in the kingdom to engage in illegal activity. She adds that the law will be vigorously enforced to clear Thailand of illegal businesses, whether Chinese-run or not.

“In cases where individuals with ill intentions come in the guise of tourists, the Tourist Police have measures in place to combat and apprehend them.”

The proposal to temporarily waive visa fees for Chinese arrivals goes before Cabinet this week. It is expected to be approved.

SOURCE: The Phuket Express

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