TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Thailand announced on Tuesday (Aug. 20) the extension of free visas on arrival for passport holders of 19 countries until April in 2020 in a bid to boost tourism amid a sluggish economy.
The list of the countries eligible for the program includes Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Uzbekistan and Vanuatu.
A fee of 2,000 baht (US$65) will be waived for tourists from the above-mentioned countries until April 30 of next year. A proposal to grant China and India visa-free entry was rejected by Thailand's Cabinet out of security concerns, reports Reuters.
According to the report, the scheme is part of the government’s US$10 billion incentive to stimulate growth, which also covers loans for small businesses and debt postponement for farmers.
Tourism is an important economic lifeline for Thailand and was estimated to contribute to around 17 percent of its GDP in 2017. The Southeast Asian country saw a mere 0.89 percent increase in arrivals in June, and the number of visitors from China, a major source of tourism, declined by 7.1 percent since last year, wrote Reuters.