Bangkok, Sep 1 (IANS) Thailand said on Thursday its tourism will generate $75 billion in 2016 and that the proposed visa on arrival fee hike may not hit Chinese and Indian markets.
In the first nine months of 2016, Thailand’s tourism industry was expected to generate a total of $54 billion for the Thai economy, which would be a 14 per cent increase compared with same period in 2015.
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Yuthasak Supason said this in a press release, adding that a total of 24.94 million foreign tourists were expected to contribute $36 billion.
For the last quarter of 2016, TAT expects the tourism industry to generate $20 billion, including $14 billion from 9 million foreign tourists.
However, Thailand’s immigration authorities declared earlier that they will begin imposing new charges for visas on arrival from September 27, raising the current fee of 1,000 baht ($29) to 2,000 baht ($58).
The hike was criticized by Bangkok Post as going against the county’s campaigns to attract more tourists.
Yuthasak said the adjustment was to encourage tourists to apply for visas before they enter the country.
“Nowadays, tourists are waiting long queues for visas, which is a pressure on our immigration authorities and tourists may get upset as they have to wait for a long time,” said Charoen Wangananont, president of Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA).
According to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, around 19.54 million foreign tourists visited Thailand from January to July this year. Among them, about 30 per cent were from China.