Thailand will drop visa-on-arrival fees for Taiwanese visitors for 2 months

Fee waiver valid from December 1 through January 31

The visa-on-arrival gate at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport.

The visa-on-arrival gate at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Taiwanese visitors and travelers from 20 other countries will not have to pay for visas on arrival in Thailand between December 1 and January 31 if they stay no longer than 15 days.

Thailand’s military-led Cabinet agreed Tuesday to waive the fee of 2,000 baht (NT$1,865) for citizens of countries such as China, India, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Romania, the Bangkok Post reported.

Thailand’s military-led government is using the months in the run-up to February elections to push through a host of new measures, including the legalization of marijuana for medical use, the setting up of a partnership system for same-sex couples and a crackdown on illegal immigrants.

A government spokesman said that the number of visas on arrival had been falling for more than two years, prompting the latest measure, which was expected to boost arrival numbers by 30 percent.

The main focus of the measure was believed to be Chinese tourists, who form the largest group of foreign visitors in the Southeast Asian country but began to stay away after a fatal shipping accident and a violent clash with an immigration official at an airport earlier this year.

In September, 648,000 Chinese tourists visited Thailand, a drop of almost 15 percent from the same month last year and almost 12 percent from August, according to the Bangkok Post.

In Taipei, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) welcomed the Thai Cabinet’s decision, adding that about 600,000 Taiwanese visited Thailand each year. In the other direction, 290,000 Thai traveled to Taiwan last year, an increase of 49.53 percent from the previous year following MOFA’s move to allow them visa-free entry.