Thai agents see benefit of hike in visa-on-arrival fees

immigration-control-at-suvarnabhumi-airportImmigration control at Suvarnabhumi Airport

THAILAND’s decision to double the price of visas on-arrival next month has come as a shock but should bring long-term benefits, industry figures say.

The 15-day visa-on-arrival fee will rise from 1,000 to 2,000 baht (US$28.8 to US$57.6) on September 27, affecting tourists from 19 countries including major markets China and India. This makes the 60-day advance visas, which costs about 1,000 baht in India and 1,200 baht in China, the more affordable choice.

Oriental Events and Leisure founder and CEO Kritidech Srabua said the announcement came as a surprise and it would take tourists time to adjust. But on balance the move was “fair”, he said.

“It’s a bit shocking for the tourists. But compared to the value that tourists will get from coming to Thailand, it’s not that bad,” said Kritidech, whose company has a strong presence in India.

“And it’s comparable to the visa fees that other countries charge.”

Standard Tour manager Kevin Gromkaewngarm said with visas in-advance now “slightly cheaper”, tourists would be encouraged to plan ahead, with fewer delays expected on landing.

“It’s quite reasonable,” said Kevin, whose company handles many Chinese visitors to Chiang Mai. “There will be shorter queues, down to about 10-15 minutes.”

EXO Travel said delays of up to two hours with the visa-on-arrival process had hindered tours in the past.

“Some operators now ask their travellers to get a visa before departure at the Thai embassy in order to avoid those delays. The new regulation will eventually favour less price-conscious visitors to use this facility,” said a EXO Travel spokesman.

“In the end we are expecting rather positive outcomes from this decision that could help to regulate some markets that were somehow growing too fast.”

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