To attract more tourists for CNY and Songkran, Thailand implements e-visas, waives visa-on-arrival fees

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Thailand, which saw a record number of 38.27 million tourists in 2018, is giving the tourism industry an even greater boost with e-visas and waived visa-on-arrival fees.

From Valentine’s Day and onward (February 14), people visiting Thailand who are coming from 21 locations may avail of the new eVisa On Arrival (eVOA) service, according to a report from the Bangkok Post.

VFS Global and the Immigration Bureau of Thailand worked together on the upgraded system. Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, the country’s Immigration police chief, says this innovation will allow visitors to process their visas at the airport in as short a period as one minute, wherein the waiting time for processing used to be between one to two hours.

According to Surachate, “The new eVOA service will offer travelers a whole new experience when applying for a Thai visa as they can fill out the electronic form and make an e-payment any time regardless of embassy working hours. Once the tourists arrive at airports, they can show their passports at specific counters to obtain a visa in just one minute, rather than a one-to-two-hour wait.”

This eVOA service will be available at thailandevoa.vfsevisa.com from February 14. Visitors should go to the site from 30 days to 24 hours before they are scheduled to arrive in the country. Fees for the visa may be paid via Mastercard, Visa and Union Pay credit or debit cards, or even through WeChat Pay and Alipay.

Surachate announced that, initially, citizens from the following places may avail of the fast-entry online visa system: Andorra, Bhutan, Bulgaria, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and business district of Taiwan.

Additionally, the fee for the VOA, which is 2,000-baht, will be waived until April 30 for those coming from these places, in the effort to attract more tourists for Chinese New Year in February and Songkran in April.

Here are the four international airports where the eVOA service can be used: Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK), Don Mueang International Airport (DMK), Phuket International Airport (HKT) or Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX), though more airports will be using this system later on this year.

Weerasak Kowsurat, the Tourism and Sports Minister of Thailand, believed that the eVOA service and waived fees will be an effective tool for attracting more tourists.

He said, “Thailand is the first country to offer this eVOA service. Together with the exemption of fees … it will help boost tourism, which represents around 20% of GDP.”