Thailand extends visa fee waivers to boost tourism as growth slows

Thailand extends visa fee waivers to boost tourism as growth slows

FILE PHOTO: People have fun on a beach during sunset at Ko Kut island in Trat Province
FILE PHOTO: People have fun on a beach during sunset at Ko Kut island in Trat Province, Thailand Oct 27, 2018. (Photo: REUTERS/Jorge Silva/Files)

BANGKOK: Thailand will extend until April next year a measure that waives fees for visas on arrival issued to tourists from 18 countries, as it looks to stimulate growth in tourism to spur a slowing economy, the prime minister said on Tuesday (Aug 20).

The waivers are part of a US$10 billion stimulus package to boost growth, including a debt moratorium for farmers, loans for smaller businesses, and more money for low-income earners.

"The cabinet approved the extension of fee waivers until April 2020," Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told reporters, adding that the scheme would cover Lunar New Year and the Thai new year, Songkran.

Foreign tourist receipts make up about 12 per cent of Southeast Asia's second largest economy, but arrivals increased just 0.89 per cent in June, with visitors from China, the biggest source, declining 7.1 per cent from a year earlier.

READ: Robust baht, travel trends rattle Thai tourism market

The fee of 2,000 baht (US$65) is to be waived until next year for travellers from 18 countries, including China and India.

But the cabinet rejected a proposal for visa-free entry for visitors from China and India, because of security concerns, government spokesman Narumon Pinyosinwat said.

Source: Reuters/nr

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