Thailand abandons visa fee hikes for Taiwanese visitors

Travelers will be offered several choices: reports

Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport (photo by Heinz Albers)

Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport (photo by Heinz Albers) (By Wikimedia Commons)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Following threats of a boycott by Taiwanese travel agencies, Thailand’s representative office has abandoned plans to impose a NT$470 (US$15) handling fee for tour group visa applications, reports said Wednesday.

The initial measure, to be introduced on October 1, caused a sharp backlash from the public, politicians and the travel sector in Taiwan, in particular because the island has given Thai visitors a visa waiver under its New Southbound Policy.

The Thailand Trade and Economic Office Taipei issued a news release Wednesday saying that there would not be a single change to the visa application procedure from before, the Apple Daily reported. A clarification added that potential visitors to Thailand would have three choices, with only one of those listed as an application to the outsourced private VFS Global visa application center still requiring the NT$470 payment, according to the Apple Daily. The choice would have the benefit that there was no need to stand in line, the report said.

Individual travelers could still visit the Thai office and apply for a visa for the original fee of NT$1,200 (US$39), while tour travelers could also still have their travel agency hand in the applications, at the office and without extra charge. In addition, there would be no restrictions on the number of applicants allowed per day.

On Tuesday, Thailand’s top envoy, Thongchai Chasawath, had argued that the high number of applicants made work at the office difficult, due to issues of overcrowding, security, and overwork for its staff. He also said that VFS Global would be able to offer more quality to visa applicants, reports said.