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ATTA wants visa-fee waiver for Chinese, Taiwanese extended

The Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) is planning to ask junta chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha to extend the waiver of visa fees for visitors from China and Taiwan in a move to boost arrivals.

ATTA president Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn said the association had initially asked Prayuth to extend the waiver on August 16, and he had agreed to stretch the waiver period by 90 days. However, Sisdivachr said he was thinking of asking for the scheme to be extended by another six or 12 months.

"In fact, ATTA had asked for the visa waiver to be extended by a year, but the junta only granted three months, which is not enough to revive the tourism industry," he added.

The 90-day extension of visa-fee waiver for tourists from China and Taiwan is expected to attract 400,000 to 500,000 tourists per month from the normal numbers of around 200,000 to 300,000 per month. ATTA hopes the scheme will attract more visitors during China's National Day Golden Week holiday in October.

According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the Kingdom should attract some 1.5 million visitors from China in the last three months of 2014, bringing the total number of Chinese visitors this year to 4.3 million, which is higher than the initial target of 3.98 million Chinese visitors. However, the revised projection is still lower than the 4.8 million Chinese visitors last year.

Budget airline Thai AirAsia has responded to the scheme quickly by introducing 13 routes to 10 destinations in China.

The airline is also planning to introduce daily flights from a provincial airport in Thailand to Guangzhou in southern China. The service is currently under approval process. Thai AirAsia aims to serve 12.6 million passengers this year, up from 10.5 million passengers last year.


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