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Thailand's new visa rule for land arrivals

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    265,641 posts since Dec '99
    • SONGKHLA (THAILAND) —Tour companies in Thailand complained Friday (May 26) that a new visa requirement for frequent visitors arriving by road or rail is affecting the number of tourists from Singapore.

      Mr Anuwat Phetwarothai, owner of AS Tour Co in Hat Yai district, said the regulation affects visitors arriving by land whose countries are not Thailand’s immediate neighbours.
      He also said they must obtain a visa if their visits exceed three times a year.
      The requirement however, does not apply to repeat visitors arriving by planes or ships.
      “The ministerial regulation has no impact on Malaysians but it does affect Singaporeans, who are the main visitors to Songkhla, as well as Indonesians, whose numbers are increasing,” he said.
      The negative impact on Hat Yai tourism is growing. It affected hotels, restaurants, tour guides and tour coach companies, he said.
      “Singaporean tourists are main customers in Hat Yai and Songkhla. More of them arrive on buses rather than by planes. They come with their families for relaxation and shopping,” said Mr Anuwat.

      At least 10 companies operate buses between Hat Yai and Singapore, with daily departures from Hat Yai around 1pm and 6pm. About 10 buses leave Hat Yai and the same number arrive from Singapore. The fare is about 900 baht (S$36.50).
      The cost of a tourist visa for Thailand is at about S$60, or about 1,500 baht.
      Mr Anuwat said the buses used to be packed with Singaporean tourists. A visitor from the Republic would usually spend an average of 3,500 baht a day, with overall monthly spending totalling around 26 million baht.
      Local tour guide Withaya sae Lim said the average Singaporean tourist stayed between three and five days. They usually make 15 visits a year, but their numbers had dropped by 60 per cent, he said.

      The new regulation also affected Indonesian tourists arriving by land, and they were a growing group of visitors, he added.
      Dismissing tour operators’ concerns, Mr Panu Woramit, Hat Yai director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said the impact of the new regulation - announced in December - was “slight” and frequent visitors can easily apply for a visa at an embassy or consulate. BANGKOK POST

      Edited by FireIce 27 May `17, 7:43PM
    • New Thai visa rule: Fees waived for Singaporeans

      The Thai Embassy clarified yesterday that visa fees are waived for Singaporeans when they apply for any category of visa for Thailand, including when entering the country for the third time or more by land.

      The Straits Times had reported on Wednesday that fewer Singaporeans are heading to Hat Yai under a new visa rule that kicked in on Dec 31.

      Under the new rule, visitors who arrive by land via bus or rail have to obtain a visa in advance if they are visiting for the third time or more in a calendar year. This affects visitors from countries that are entitled to a 30-day visa exemption, including Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines. The regulation does not affect tourists who arrive in Thailand by plane or ship.

      As a result, Tigerair flights to Hat Yai have seen a "slight increase in demand year on year... in recent months", a Tigerair spokesman told The Straits Times on Wednesday.

      Bus operators that ST spoke to on Tuesday had said many Singaporeans were deterred by the $50 visa fee.

      However, the Thai Embassy yesterday said the fee is waived for Singaporeans, based on an existing agreement between the two countries that is "symbolic of longstanding and close relations between Thailand and Singapore".

      It added that the new visa regulation is intended to prevent foreigners from utilising the 30-day exemption period to work continuously.

      To help applicants save time when obtaining the visa, the embassy also said it introduced in February an electronic visa application.

      Applicants can submit their documents online for preliminary inspection and will later be notified to submit their passports to the embassy. They will get back their passports and receive their visas the next business day, said the embassy.

      A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2017, with the headline 'New Thai visa rule: Fees waived for S'poreans'.
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