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One minute fast-entry online visa for 20 nations launched at Thai airports

By Deepak Arora

BANGKOK, Nov 21: Thailand Immigration Bureau acting commissioner Pol Maj-General Surachate Hakpal on Wednesday officially launched the e-Via on Arrival (E-VOA) system that is expected to cut visa processing time to as little as one minute.

Surachate presided over a ceremony to launch the new system, which has been used on trial basis at Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports since November 15. The launch ceremony was held at Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

Surachate said the new system has been available at Phuket International Airport since Monday, will be adopted in Chiang Mai on November 26 and to Krabi soon after, he said.

Surachate said the new system was launched under the concept of “Fast & Convenient Entry to Thailand”.

He said the system is to be targeted at citizens of Taiwan and 20 countries. Passport holders from those countries can register their request for a visa on arrival in advance at www.evisathailand.com.

The request can be made 30 days in advance or at least 24 hours in advance. Once the tourists arrive at the airports under the E-VOA system, they can show their passports at specially marked counters to obtain a visa in just one minute, rather than a one-to-two hour wait, said Surachate.

It may be mentioned that the online visa fee is 525 thb.

Amazing Thailand Grand Shopping Sale Launched

By Deepak Arora

BANGKOK, Nov 16: The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is launching its year-end Amazing Thailand Grand Sale promotion with a unique “Passport Privileges” twist, targeting arrivals from short-haul markets from ASEAN, East Asia and South Asia.

Thailand Minister of Tourism and Sports Weerasak Kowsurat said: “This promotion is the first of a series of a ‘special year-end gift’ for international visitors while helping to stimulate revenue for the locals through the boost in tourist shopping activities.

“Following this, the Immigration Bureau is planning to offer double-entry and re-entry visas for tourists after having granted a two-month visa-on-arrival fee waiver for travellers from 20 countries.”

Runs from 15 November, 2018, to 15 January, 2019, the year-end Amazing Thailand Grand Sale promotion offers extra discounts on existing promotions already available from participating department stores and shops in Bangkok.

It aims at boosting tourism revenue from those who especially enjoy shopping whilst travelling to and from Thailand.

TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn appealed to the tourists to come and check out Amazing Thailand Grand Sale Passport Privileges promotions.

Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said “TAT is working with our partners, including manufacturers, leading and popular brand merchandisers, shopping malls and department stores, community malls, and credit card companies to offer “Passport Privileges” to arrivals from strategic short-haul markets.

“Of course, tourists from all other major markets also enjoy the usual incredible discounts associated with this latest Amazing Thailand Grand Sale promotion, which is an ideal time before the annual Festive Season holidays start in December,” said Yuthasak.

To get the word out, all TAT offices around ASEAN, East Asia and South Asia are arranging familiarisation trips for Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), including bloggers, travel and shopping bloggers in their respective markets to experience first-hand the year-end Thailand shopping extravaganza using the “Passport Privileges” at participating shops, restaurants, shopping malls and department stores.

The first trips were arranged for 22 KOLs from China earlier this month.

TAT is also promoting ‘sales’ of popular products favoured by tourists including handcrafted Thai textiles, cosmetics, home appliances and top Thai brands. It will also promote and create pop-up ‘shopping events’ at shopping malls and department stores that are popular with tourists.

Brochures, vouchers along with further details about the ‘Passport Privileges’ will be provided for tourists at the airports. Temporary downtown VAT refund counters will be open during the high tourist season shopping promotion.

The visa-on-arrival fee waiver for 20 countries will be prominently featured at the airports’ immigration counters in English and Chinese.

Phuket launches ground breaking ‘No Foam No Plastic’ initiative

By Deepak Arora

BANGKOK, Nov 21: Phuket’s public and private sectors recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on a ground breaking ‘No Foam No Plastic’ initiative at the Phuket Sustainable Tourism Blueprint 2018 held on 9 November.

The MOU was signed by key private and public sector stakeholders on the island including Phuket Province and heads of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Phuket Office, Phuket Tourism Council, Thai Hotels Association Southern Chapter, Phuket Industrial Council, Patong Hotels Association, Kata-Karon Hotels Association and the Phuket Chamber of Commerce.

TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said “This is an important step in the right direction in line with the Thai government’s ‘Thailand 4.0’ sustainable tourism development goal. Hopefully, Phuket will be a positive case study that the whole country could follow.

“The importance of Phuket as one of Thailand’s most high profile tourist destinations shouldn’t be under estimated.”

The Phuket Sustainable Tourism Blueprint 2018 discussed the direction and timeframe on the collaboration from all stakeholders towards sustainable tourism development. It outlined a strategy of SCG: S – Safe and Smart, C- Clean and Convenience and G- Green and Global. All are earmarked with the utmost urgency for concurrent actions on Phuket-wide ‘Clean and Green’ challenges.

Under the MOU, the local administration plans to promote a ‘No Foam, No Plastic’ effort with local shops and the people effective as of 14 February, 2019, which will see them stop using foam containers for food or other items. Then, from 1 October, 2019, this effort will be encouraged for the people to switch entirely to paper or eco-friendly bags and straw.

The tourism sector will also inspire business partners to do the same from 14 February, 2019.

Thailand waives visa-on-arrival fee of Rs 4,000 for Indians

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Nov 15: There is good news for Indian planning to visit Thailand. From Thursday (today), the travel for Indians visiting Thailand has become cheaper and easier. The Thai Government has waived visa-on-arrival fee of Rs 4,000 for tourists from India and 19 other countries from today.

With several Indian and other foreign carriers such as Thai Airways, Jet, Indigo, Air India, Spice Jet, Go Air et al flying out of India to popular destinations like Bangkok and Phuket, the flight have also become affordable.

So it’s good time to have family holidays to Thailand to enjoy no visa fee till January 13 next year.

From 15 November to January 13, 2019, citizens of Andora, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China including Taiwan, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan will be exempted from the 2,000 Baht visa-on-arrival fee for the purpose of touring in Thailand not more than 15 days.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has welcomed the government’s decision to grant a visa-on-arrival fee waiver for tourists.

TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said: “This is good news for Thailand’s tourism industry as we’re preparing a range of year-end activities and promotions, including the launch of Amazing Thailand Grand Sale ‘Passport Privilege’ during the same period.”

Tourism promotions and events in the pipeline between now and January, next year, also include the New Year Electronic Music Festival in Pattaya on December 30-31, and TAT will hold the Countdown Celebration in five destinations in the five regions of Thailand. These are: Chiang Rai in the North, Nakhon Phanom in the Northeast, Ratchaburi in the Central Region, Satun with its world renowned geopark in the South, and Sa Kaeo in the East.

IsraSpeaking to this correspondent, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand in India Isra Stapanaseth said India is emerging market for Thailand considering that the outlook for outbound tourists from India is set to grow by leaps and bounds.

He said Thailand was the first preferred destination due to exponential growth. Not only are Indians high spenders, he said but they were also looking at Thailand for family holiday, big fat Indian weddings, celebrations, film shoots, MICE and for leisure travel. Thailand provides for everything and to all segments.

As many as 11,70,981 tourists travelled to Thailand from January to September 2018 with a growth of (+12%), generating the revenue of 52,133.08 Million Baht (+35.16%).

Isra Stapanaseth said “Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Orissa and Rajasthan were potential markets for us as we have seen a lot of growth like Leisure, Family, Mice, etc which are already very popular from here. So we would like to focus more on tier 2 and 3 cities like Amritsar, Jalandhar, Dehradun, Bhubaneswar, Raipur, Jaipur, Lucknow, etc.

He said “Spice jet commenced a direct flight from Amritsar to Bangkok from November 6 last. Go Air also commence direct flight Delhi to Phuket since October 11. Indigo plans a direct flight to Phuket from November 23. Nokscoot Airlines will commence direct flight from Delhi to Bangkok from December 14. It will boost the tourism from Tier-2 and 3 cities.”

Isra Stapanaseth said “our focus in India is to attract leisure segment, offer family vacations to beach destinations, Golfing trips and celebrations such as weddings, anniversaries and birthdays.”

He said “we are also focusing on special interest groups and segments such as women, senior citizens, bachelors and bachelorettes as they are now venturing more out of India.”

Isra Stapanaseth said TAT Campaign’s punch line is Discover Amazing Stories on New Shades of Thai Gastronomy; New Shades of Thai Art & Craft; New Shades of Thai Culture; New Shades of Thai Nature and Beach; and New Shades of Thai Way of Life.

In conclusion, TAT Director Isra Stapanaseth said Thailand offers tourists experience, comfort, hospitality, easy accessibility and a warm welcome. He said Thailand offers variety and is cost effective. It offers world class facilities, yet is reasonable.

Thailand waives off ‘Visa on Arrival’ fee for Indians, 19 other countries

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Nov 9: In order to boost tourist arrivals into the country, the Thailand government has temporarily waived off ‘Visa-on-Arrival’ fee of 2,000 baht for Indians and 19 other countries and Taiwan from December 1 this year. The new policy will remain in effect through the end of January. The duration of stay, however, will remain unchanged at 15 days.

Besides India, passport holders of Andorra, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Taiwan can take advantage of the waiver.

Thailand has been experiencing a slowdown in visitors from abroad since July, when a boating accident off the coast of the southern tourist island of Phuket claimed the lives of more than 40 Chinese nationals. There were also reports of dengue outbreak. Visitors from China, which once accounted for 30 per cent of all tourist traffic, have decreased following the incidents.

The government spokesman Puttipong Punnakanta said Thailand has seen a continuous decrease in the number of tourists, more than 10 per cent over the past three months.

The number of tourists coming through Suvarnabhumi Airport in 2016 and 2017 were 3.1 million and 2.2 million respectively, he said, but from January to September this year, the number had declined to 1.7 million.

The number of Chinese visitors dropped dramatically from 939,771 in July, when the boat tragedy took place, to 867, 461 in August, down 11.7 per cent, according to the Tourism and Sports Ministry.

In the popular eastern seaside resort of Pattaya, deputy mayor Poramet Ngampichet called a meeting with concerned agencies and stakeholders in the tourism sector to map out measures to boost visitor numbers following a sharp decline in tourists. Chinese are among the top visitors to Pattaya, totalling 2.5 million last year.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, on Tuesday made a deal in Shanghai with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to help promote Thailand as a tourist destination to Chinese people.

Thailand's economy has recovered since the 2014 military coup on the twin engines of exports and tourism. But with the trade war between the US and China was casting a shadow over the outlook for exports and, therefore, the revitalization of the tourism industry has become an imperative for the Thai government.

Alphons inaugurates Tourist Facilitation Counter at IGI Airport

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Nov 5: Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism K.J. Alphons inaugurated the Tourist Facilitation and Information Counter at Indira Gandhi International Airport New Delhi, today.

The facilitation counter is located at the T3 terminal arrival gates of the IGI Airport.
The Tourism Ministry is also starting Facilitation Counters in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Gaya and Varanasi.

Opening the facilitation Centre for visitors, which is first of its kind by the Government in IGI airport, the Minister said that this shall be of great help to the tourists visiting the country.

The Minister added that the counter shall cater to non-English speaking tourists also as the Counter will also be connected to the 24x7 Helpline – ‘1363’ of the Tourism Ministry where the tourists can speak directly with the foreign language agents and get guidance in French, German, Italian, French, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Arabic.

The Ministry of Tourism has set-up this Counter with an objective to provide 24x7 information to both domestic and international visitors arriving into IGI Airport, New Delhi. The Tourist Facilitation Counter will be manned by two staff and a Supervisor to answer the queries of the tourists and also guide them with information. The Counter is also stocked with sufficient high quality tourist literature and brochures to be provided to the tourists.

India, South Korea sign MoU to boost tourism

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Nov 5: Indian Tourism Ministry on Monday signed here a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism for strengthening cooperation in the field of tourism.

Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism K J Alphons and Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sports, Republic of Korea Do Jong-hwan signed the MoU.

Officials from the ministry and their counterparts from Korea were also present during the signing ceremony.

The main objectives of the MoU are to expand bilateral cooperation and increase exchange of information and data related to tourism sector as well as encourage cooperation between the stakeholders including hotels and tour operators, according to an official release.

Plans are afoot to also exchange experiences in the areas of promotion, marketing destination development, management and encouraging participation in travel fairs/exhibitions in each other's country.

South Korea is one of the leading tourists generating a market for India from East Asia.

In 2017, a total of 1,42,383 Korean tourists visited India, while the figure during January-September was 1,80,901 (provisional).

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