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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cabinet: Suvarnabhumi transit passengers need no visa

Cabinet on Tuesday approved a visa exemption scheme for transit passengers through Suvarnabhumi Airport who must wait long hours to catch a connecting flight, in an attempt to boost the country's tourism industry.

Deputy spokesman Puttipong Punnakan said the Cabinet initially approved the plan to increase income from international transit passengers, by allowing them to temporarily leave the airport premises on a short visit or to shop at places near the airport without a visa.

Mr. Puttipong said Thailand welcomed a thousand of transit passengers daily, many of whom must stay at the airport for up to eight hours.

If allowed to leave the airport for a short visit to tourist attractions or nearby shopping, more income could be generated among local residents and tour operators.

It is expected that the number of tourists in Bangkok, Chachoengsao, Samut Prakan and Chonburi will increase if the plan is implemented.

"Cabinet also assigned the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Airports of Thailand and the Association of Thai Travel Agents to create interesting tour packages for transit passengers," Mr. Puttipong said.

The visa exemption scheme is aimed at boosting Thailand's tourism industry and reversing a drop in the number of foreign tourists. The number of foreign tourists has dropped by 20 per cent from the same period of last year, due to the local political turmoil and global economic slowdown. (TNA)

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