Thu, Aug 30, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Thailand’s office cancels visa fee hike

By Peng Wan-hsin and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu talks to reporters yesteday, saying that the government will communicate with the Thai government over the scheduled group visa-fee hike starting in October.

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

Amid backlash from travel agencies and tourists, the Thailand Trade and Economic Office yesterday canceled a proposed NT$470 increase in the handling fee for visa applications.

The office on Tuesday said that beginning in October, Taiwanese visitors to Thailand would have to pay an additional handling fee for visa applications processed by a newly hired Dubai-based consular services provider.

Travel agencies and individuals protested the hike, believing that the office was planning to fully outsource visa services.

The office yesterday said that applicants could continue to apply directly to the office or a travel agency, while the new third option of applying through VFS Global was added for convenience.

The office said it is investigating ways to improve the visa application process, but no changes have been made so far.

The office said the new option is for those who do not wish to wait in line and are willing to pay more for convenience.

Earlier in the day, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) at an award ceremony for those who have made notable contributions to foreign affairs, said that Thailand is an important market for the nation’s tourism industry, with the number of Thai tourists increasing by 50 percent since the government in August last year introduced visa-free travel for Thais.

The policy was introduced as part of the government’s New Southbound Policy.

Taiwan earlier this month extended the visa-free trial period for Thai travelers for another year, citing the success of the policy.

Visitor numbers from other parts of Southeast Asia have also increased 30 percent, Wu said.

“There is no doubt that the policy has been successful and we have seen very good reactions to it overall,” he said.

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