TCC seeks visa amnesty for tourists

Bangkok Post - - BUSINESS - NARUMON KASEMSUK

The Thai Cham­ber of Com­merce (TCC) has urged the govern­ment to ex­tend the visa amnesty for 400,000 tourists here, while op­er­a­tors in Chi­ang Mai said more than 10,000 in­ter­na­tional tourists are help­ing to gen­er­ate rev­enue in the province while bor­ders re­main closed.

TCC chair­man Kalin Sarasin said the cham­ber has re­peat­edly de­manded that the Im­mi­gra­tion Bureau con­sider au­to­mat­i­cally ex­tend­ing the dead­line for for­eign­ers in Thai­land for 90 days af­ter the amnesty ex­pires today, but the pro­posal was ne­glected.

“The TCC has raised this is­sue on three oc­ca­sions, in­clud­ing at a meet­ing with the prime min­is­ter and the In­te­rior Min­istry re­cently,” Mr Kalin said. “We were told that this agenda was in the process, but there’s been no progress so far as the dead­line ap­proaches.”

He said the dead­line will bring chaos to those re­sid­ing in Thai­land now, as com­mer­cial flights are not fully al­lowed in the coun­try.

In­stead of black­list­ing those for­eign­ers, the govern­ment should ac­com­mo­date them with a more flex­i­ble pe­riod, par­tic­u­larly when the coun­try can­not re­open for in­bound tourists, Mr Kalin said.

He con­trasted the re­ac­tion from the govern­ment re­gard­ing the visa amnesty with the ef­fort to pro­mote Thai tourism to for­eign­ers tem­po­rar­ily liv­ing here as a means to gen­er­ate do­mes­tic rev­enue.

“The un­com­pro­mis­ing stance to­wards visa ex­ten­sion scares tourists away de­spite the fact that they help drive the lo­cal econ­omy in these tough times,” Mr Kalin said.

Anan­torn Hochin­darat, pres­i­dent of the Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion of Chi­ang Mai, said lo­cal op­er­a­tors have re­ceived rev­enue from in­ter­na­tional tourists who re­mained in Thai­land dur­ing the past six months.

Some 70% were from China, while oth­ers were from Ja­pan and Europe.

Mr Anan­torn said some were forced to stay be­cause of tech­ni­cal prob­lems, while oth­ers stayed vol­un­tar­ily be­cause of their con­fi­dence in Thai­land’s health and safety stan­dards.

The rev­enue from this group ben­e­fits ho­tels, rented homes and con­do­mini­ums, as the tourists need longterm ac­com­mo­da­tion.

“Our in­bound rev­enue was zero from March, but some of us can man­age to have re­cur­ring rev­enue from those for­eign­ers,” Mr Anan­torn said. “Al­though not as much as nor­mal tourists, it can help us a lot when fac­ing dif­fi­cult times.”

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