June 15, 2023
BANGKOK – The Foreign Ministry has denied that Thailand’s entry procedure for Chinese nationals is excessively convoluted, insisting that a simplified visa process is already in place.
The government is under fire from tourism operators, who say complicated visa rules are deterring Chinese nationals from visiting Thailand and could cost the economy 250 billion baht in lost revenue. On Saturday, tourism representatives put their case to the Thai Sang Thai Party, complaining that visa rules imposed to deter Chinese criminals were having the same effect on legitimate tourists from China.
Responding to the complaints, ministry spokesperson Kanchana Patarachoke said on Wednesday that the government was seeking a balance between security and tourism.
Kanchana said Chinese arrivals could easily apply for visas on arrival or electronic visas.
She said the e-visa process at via www.thaievisa.go.th simplifies applications as no paperwork is involved and personal data is integrated across sectors.
The only documents required are the passport data page and a record of international travel over the past 12 months, with applications approved within 15 days.
She added that the e-visa system can also handle up to 5 million applications per year, increasing to 15 million in the future.
Kanchana also denied news reports claiming that the number of visas Thailand grants to Chinese visitors is capped.
The government only needs to conduct entry checks to combat illicit workers, illegal entry into Thailand, and visa runs, she said.
The Foreign Ministry had also discussed guidelines on Chinese arrivals with the Tourism Authority of Thailand and they agreed to work jointly to meet the target of five million visitors to Thailand this year, she said.
She said the government had a duty to maintain national security while ensuring an efficient immigration screening system.
China was Thai tourism’s biggest overseas market in terms of numbers and revenue in 2019, accounting for around 28% of all arrivals.