Kiradech Aphibarnrat achieved a career-best third place in the World Golf Championship in Mexico yesterday, collecting half a million dollars. Kiradech, the first Thai to earn a USPGA Tour card, also plays on the European Tour, just like his compatriot Thongchai Jaidee.
World No 1 Ariya Jutanugarn and her sister Moriya, Pornanong Phatlum and a half a dozen Thai stars of women’s golf are on the US LPGA Tour and raking in millions of dollars. Similarly Prayad Marksaeng and Thaworn Wiratchant ply their trade on the Japan Senior Golf Tour and contend for the top prize week in and week out. All these players are provided with P1 visas by their Tours and governments of the US, Japan and European Union, to facilitate easy travel between tournament venues.
However, foreigners who play on Thailand PGA Tour and All Thailand Golf Tour are denied such visas by the Thai government. There are a plenty of Japanese, South Korean, Chinese, Indian, British, US and UK golfers who have to queue at embassies around the world for tourist visas each time there is a tournament in Thailand. Their stay is restricted depending on their nationality. Every time they land in Thailand, they are made to explain the purpose of their visit and often looked at suspiciously. This discriminatory practice has to end. Thai Immigration officials should sit down with the Thai PGA and All Thailand Golf Tour to find a reasonable solution for the golfers, who have been suffering for many years.
Thai professional golfers are treated very well by American, European and Japanese governments, but unfortunately this is not being reciprocated by the Thailand when foreign golfers apply for visas. It’s time foreign golfers visiting Thailand got P1 visas.