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Thailand mulling visa waiver for Taiwanese tourists (update)
Central News Agency
2014-03-18 11:22 PM
Taipei, March 18 (CNA) Thailand is hoping to recapture the interest of Taiwanese travelers by introducing incentives that may include a visa waiver program, a Thai tourism official said Tuesday in Taipei. Eager to lure back tourists, the Thai government the same day announced the end of a nearly two-month state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas as deadly political protests subsided, said Srisuda Wanapinyosak, executive director of East Asia Regions at the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). "We want to restore tourists' confidence as soon as possible through programs that could make travel to Thailand easier," she said at a trade show in Taipei. Some of the initiatives may include a more effective travel booking system and a visa waiver program that would make Thai travel more appealing to Taiwanese, Wanapinyosak said. Currently, Taiwanese tourists are required to obtain visitors' visas to travel to Thailand. Kriangsak Kittichaisaree, executive director of the Thailand Trade and Economic Office in Taiwan, also urged Taiwan to lift its travel alert for his country as tensions there have eased. Taiwan currently maintains an orange alert for travel to Bangkok, urging citizens to take precautions and avoid unnecessary travel to the city. Under Taiwan foreign ministry's four-color-coded travel alert system, orange is the second-highest alert after red, with yellow and gray the two lower levels. The number of Taiwanese tourists to Thailand increased in 2013 by an annual of 65.48 percent to 507,616, while the total number of international visitors grew 19.6 percent to 26.73 million, according to the TAT. Wanapinyosak said the TAT hopes to attract over 28 million international tourists to Thailand this year, including 510,000 from Taiwan, which will generate an estimated 1.3 trillion Baht (US$41 billion) in foreign exchange revenue, a 13 percent annual growth. In particular, she said, the tourism authority is targeting free independent travelers, who have emerged as an important category of Taiwanese visitors to the Southeastern Asian country. Business travelers and golfers will also become a major target for the TAT in its efforts to attract more Taiwanese visitors, Wanapinyosak added. (By Lee Hsin-Yin)
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