Re: "Reluctance to join single-visa scheme could prove to be costly", September 25
If, as your article suggested, the reason for Thailand’s abrupt refusal to join the single visa scheme with Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam after years of negotiation is the fear of losing Bt1 billion in visa fees from Chinese tourists, this would appear to be an extraordinary decision. The UK has already discovered that it is missing out badly on Chinese tourism due to its refusal to join the Schengen Agreement, which offers a single visa for 25 European countries. Chinese tour operators often skip the UK to save their clients the expense and trouble and obtaining another visa, and they are very likely to tailor Southeast Asian tours that similarly skip Thailand, if Thailand opts out of a nascent Asean single visa scheme. Surely the VAT paid by each tourist on average is more than the visa fee, not to mention the incremental revenues to Thai businesses and employees, which in turn have to pay corporate income tax and salaries tax. I think the taxpayer should be entitled to an explanation.