A RECENT TTG Asia Online poll asking our readers whether Thailand’s move to raise visa fees for Indian nationals (TTG Asia e-Daily, October 6) would benefit its tourism industry returned a majority ‘No’ verdict.
As of 15.00 today, out of 68 respondents to the poll, 65 per cent said ‘No’, 25 per cent said ‘Yes’, and 10 per cent said ‘Don’t Know’.
Comments criticising the visa fee hike ranged from “Why single out Indians for such treatment” and “This is a retrograde step and will affect MICE & leisure movement to Thailand, especially at a time when Thailand is plagued by floods”, to “…many first-time (Indian) travellers will seek other destinations as they are cost-conscious” and Hong Kong & Macau will gain at Thailand’s expense”.
Mumbai-based Kesari Tours director, Sudhir Patil, said it would have been better if the visa fee hike were introduced after the current high season had ended.
“This came at a wrong time as many of our clients had already bought packages for Diwali and Christmas season,” he said. “We’ll have to re-collect the fee difference from clients. This would have been avoidable if the announcement could wait till December.”
Patil said the increase in visa fee would impact Indian families in particular, as “their tour budget will go up in totality”.
However, he added that Thailand was “still highly affordable compared to other competitive countries in Asia”.
New Delhi-based Inter Skylinks India managing director, Jagdeep Rikhy, agreed that Thailand was still an attractive destination for Indians.
“The hike in fee will not affect as Thailand is a great value-for-money destination that offers everything that an Indian traveller is looking for,” he said. “The demand is constantly growing as Thailand NTO has been keeping the destination alive through regular promotions and marketing initiatives.”