Thai visa fee exemption doubles applications
Ramani KANGARAARACHCHI in Thailand
The exemption of the visa fee of Rs. 4,000 for Sri Lankans to visit
Thailand which commenced on March 31 has been encouraging.
A Thai tourist attraction
The number of visa applications at the Thai Embassy has increased
two-fold according to as official of the Embassy. Earlier the embassy
received around 200 applications but it has increased to over 400 now,
sources said. The exemption is valid until June 4. Executive Director,
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) South Asia and South Pacific Region
Department (ASEAN) Prakit Piriyaklet told Sri Lankan journalists at a
media briefing at the TAT office in Bangkok recently that TAT has called
upon the Government to extend this visa fee exemption for three more
months and was hopeful about a positive reply. It was for the first time
that the Thai Government introduced this exemption, he said.
Meanwhile, the Thai Embassy in Sri Lanka said that the situation in
Thailand has returned to normalcy. Piriyaklet said that Thailand and Sri
Lanka will launch a joint campaign to promote the tourism industry this
year. Sri Lanka is one of the main target markets for tourism in
Thailand and the promotional campaign on the last occasion was very
fruitful. We are planning a visit to Sri Lanka within the next few
months to discuss the matter with Sri Lankan tourism authorities, he
said. The TAT marketing activities in Sri Lanka in 2009 include a family
trip for the agents and media and Airlines and Travel Agents jointly
conducted the promotion with special fare packages.
The number of tourist arrivals is less as the economic crisis has not
returned to normalcy yet but South Asia will recover very soon because
of the visa fee exemption, he said.
From January to December 2008 thirty nine thousand seven hundred and
six Sri Lankans visited Thailand and in January 2009 it recorded
The main reason for Sri Lankans to visit Thailand are for shopping,
entertainment and sight-seeing trips. Statistics have revealed that
couples getting married in five star hotels in Colombo are selecting
overseas exotic destinations such as Pattaya, Bangkok and Phuket to
spend their honeymoon.
Individual businessmen in the high income category and business
groups travelling on official purposes such as product launches and
conferences are another segment visiting Thailand.
Holiday packages among corporates are an emerging and lucrative
market in Sri Lanka which is becoming increasingly popular among the
business community, according to Piriyaklet.